225. Letter From President Reagan to Soviet General Secretary Brezhnev1

Dear Mr. President:

I am writing to express my deep personal concern about the condition of Anatoly Shcharansky. His plight has aroused a great deal of sympathy and support in the United States.

Since September 27, Mr. Shcharansky has been on a hunger strike which he has undertaken to protest the denial to him by Chistopol’ prison authorities of permission to write letters to his friends and relatives or to receive visits from his mother or brother. After five years of incarceration, his health is said to have deteriorated significantly. The continuation of a hunger strike places his life in jeopardy.

I urge you to give your personal attention to this matter, and I trust that some way can be found to accommodate Mr. Shcharansky’s needs for greater communication with his family within the requirements of your penal system.

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While I am writing you because of the particular urgency of this situation, I also urge your personal intervention to secure Mr. Shcharansky’s release from prison and permission to join his family in Israel.2


Ronald Reagan
  1. Source: Reagan Library, Executive Secretariat, NSC: Head of State File, USSR: General Secretary Brezhnev (8290742, 8290870). No classification marking. Bremer sent a draft of the letter to Clark under cover of an October 14 memorandum. (Ibid.) In an undated note to Clark, received on October 16, McFarlane wrote: “Judge—You might want to take this up at a 9:30 meeting. You might also want to consider urging the President to call Dobrynin in for a private session to give him the letter and to explain what the President has said dozen of times; that he does not seek to embarrass the Soviets; he will not publicize this letter but only wants to see some results without a test of manhood.” (Ibid.)
  2. In telegram 298898 to Moscow, October 23, the Department instructed the Embassy to deliver the letter as soon as possible to the highest ranking authority. (Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, N820008–0530) In telegram 12851 from Moscow, October 25, the Embassy reported that a member of the U.S. delegation delivered the President’s letter to the Soviet Foreign Ministry that day. (Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, N820008–0539)