Madrid parley - few gains for USSR dissidents

The Soviet authorities are showing few signs of flexibility on the issue of imprisoned or banished dissidents - despite predictions that they might make concessions to mark the end of the European security review conference in Madrid.

Diplomats from some of the major Western powers had been saying in the past few weeks that they expected Moscow to show clemency to one or two of the better-known human rights activists as a goodwill gesture to sweeten the atmosphere in Madrid.

Delegations from East and West finally hammered out a compromise accord at the conference last week. The gathering may now be able to close successfully this week after three years of deliberations. But the indications in the Soviet capital are that the leadership under President Yuri Andropov has no intention of budging from its hard line toward those who challenge the state.

The only exception involves not dissidents but religious refuseniks. A second group of Pentecostalists has been allowed to leave the Soviet Union. The 15 members of the Chmykhalov family, two of whom spent five years in the US Embassy basement here, arrived in Vienna Monday.

But dissidents have not fared so well. Yelena Bonner, wife of dissident physicist Andrei Sakharov, returned empty-handed to her husband's place of exile in Gorky after spending the past week trying to press the authorities to allow him into a clinic to undergo treatment for a heart ailment.

Dr. Sakharov has refused to enter a local Gorky hospital and is insisting that as a member of the Academy of Sciences he still has every right to a bed at the organization's special Moscow clinic. Mrs. Bonner said she had been told by academy officials there was no hope of his terms of exile being eased to allow him to move.

West European diplomats said there were also no indications that the authorities were preparing to back down on their refusal to allow Sakharov to leave the country. Earlier this year he was officially invited to take up university posts in both Norway and Austria.

Of those dissidents serving prison or labor camp terms, Anatoly Shcharansky and Yuri Orlov are probably best known in the West.

But Shcharansky's relatives say they have been given no indications whatever of any movement in his case. Orlov's wife, Irina, told reporters her husband had started a hunger strike July 10 to press his demands for a general amnesty for political prisoners.

Orlov was the founder of the ''Helsinki group'' set up in Moscow in 1975 to monitor Soviet compliance with the human rights sections of the accords signed at the first European Security and Cooperation Conference. In 1978 he was sentenced to seven years' labor camp followed by five years of internal exile on charges of anti-Soviet agitation.

Mrs. Orlov said she was told by state officials last month that there was no chance of her husband being released before he had served his full term. She said she believed it was frustration and despair at this that prompted him to begin his fast.

Other news from dissident quarters included a note of tragedy with the death of Viktor Tomachinsky in prison earlier this month. Tomachinsky filed a civil suit against the KGB security police in December 1981 claiming $18,200 compensation. He cited this as ''lost earnings,'' declaring in court that the KGB had promised him an exit visa to go to the United States and then failed to deliver it.

The Moscow court declared itself incompetent to rule in the case, and the same evening Tomachinsky was picked up by KGB agents. He was jailed for a year on charges of parasitism, which means refusal to work, then kept on in prison in the northern town of Vologda after his sentence expired.

Last May he was given an additional three-year term on charges of spreading anti-Soviet slander. His wife, Lena, told reporters he fell ill in prison several months ago and his condition gradually deteriorated.

of 5 stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read 5 of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.