The wife of jailed Soviet dissident Anatoly Shcharansky stood in a mock cage outside the United Nations today and called for freedom for her husband and free emigration for Soviet Jews.
Speaking as Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze addressed the U.N. General Assembly, Avital Shcharansky bitterly condemned Soviet policies and called on the United States to increase pressure for Jewish emigration.
‘Let Our People Go’
“How can you believe this man when he sits down with his hands covered with the blood of the people?” she said of Shevardnadze. “I appeal to him: Let our people go. Let my husband go.”
Shcharansky, a computer programmer, was jailed in 1974 and sentenced four years later to 13 years in prison on charges of spying for the United States. He has denied wrongdoing and said he sought only to emigrate to Israel.
His wife and other supporters charge that Shcharansky, 37, is a victim of a Soviet campaign to intimidate dissenters into silence.
Emigration a Trickle
They also complain that the Soviets allowed only 896 Jews to emigrate last year, down from a peak of 51,320 in 1979, and say 400,000 are awaiting permission to leave.
Avital Shcharansky urged the Soviets to “clean the page” by freeing her husband and allowing more Jewish emigration before the November summit meeting between President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev. She also called on Reagan to take up her husband’s case in his talks with Soviet leaders.
“I appeal to President Reagan to strongly transport the message,” Avital Shcharansky said. She was surrounded by 150 supporters who stood in a light rain across the street from the U.N. complex on Manhattan’s East Side.