Soviet Union Sounds of Freedom

Moscow releases some dissidents, but cracks down on refuseniks

"Objectively, something real is happening. How far it is going to go is a complicated question. But I myself have decided that the situation has changed."

So said Physicist Andrei Sakharov, perhaps the Soviet Union's most famous human-rights advocate, in assessing last week's announcement by the Kremlin that it had begun to release as many as 280 political dissidents from prisons and other places of detention. At best this would represent no more than 40% of the 750 or more Soviet citizens who are currently imprisoned or detained for their political beliefs. Still, it is the first mass release of prisoners...

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