211. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for Domestic Affairs and Policy (Eizenstat) to President Carter1

I received a call today from Avital Scharansky, the wife of Anatoly Scharansky. She reported that Mr. Scharansky’s mother and brother saw him in prison two days ago. Their report to her was that he had been very sick since February and was growing worse, that he could neither read nor write at this point, was having severe headaches, and had experienced a drastic loss of weight. She stated that he was getting little, if any, medical help.

She made a personal appeal that you petition the Russians for his release on the grounds of his physical condition. She said she under[Page 632]stood that in previous instances this has often afforded the Russians an opportunity to release political prisoners. She also stated that she would like to talk with you by telephone personally. I did not encourage that suggestion; but you might actually consider making such a call to dramatize your concern about Scharansky’s plight.

I would like to get back to her or have someone else in the Administration get back to her to respond to her personal request, since she may well tell the media shortly that she has made such a request.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Country File, Box 83, USSR: 8/80. Personal and Confidential. A copy of the memorandum was sent to Brzezinski. Carter wrote in the upper right-hand corner, “Zbig—Tell Cy to do this. J.”