Protests are mounting in many parts of the world at the trials in the Soviet Union of the two well known dissidents, Anatoly Shcharansky and Alexander Ginsburg.
Protests are mounting in many parts of the world at the trials in the Soviet Union of the two well known dissidents, Anatoly Shcharansky and Alexander Ginsburg. The two men went on trial separately on Monday (10 July). Shcharansky is charged with spying, which carries the death sentence. Ginsburg is charged with the lesser offence of anti-Soviet agitation, and faces ten years in jail if found guilty.
SYNOPSIS: Soviet dissidents have been under increasing pressure in recent months, and the trials are seen by some people in the west as an attempt to crush them completely. Ginsburg has already been found guilty of anti-Soviet agitation once before. He and Shcharansky are the movement's best known members still inside the Soviet Union. Shcharansky is being tried in Moscow, while Ginsburg is in court at Kaluga, a town near the capital. In Moscow, Shcharansky's mother was among those turned away from the court, though his brother did manage to get inside. He said Shcharansky denied all the charges against him.
Shcharansky's wife, who is in Paris, held a news conference there on the day the trial opened in Moscow, protesting her husband's innocence. She said she feared the trials were the beginning of a campaign to exterminate jews in the Soviet Union and she appealed to French President Giscard d'Estaing to help save him. After addressing the assembled newsmen in her native Russian, Mrs. Natalya Shcharansky spoke in English.
In Washington, the American Secretary of State Cyrus Vance again criticised the Soviet action, in the strongest diplomatic terms.