HC Deb 25 July 1983 vol 46 cc336-8W
Mr. Malone

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress has been made in the implementation by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and Eastern European countries of the provisions of the Helsinki final act during the last six months.

Mr. Rifkind

During the last six-months period up to 30 June 1983 implementation by the Soviet Union and Eastern European countries of their commitments under the Helsinki final act showed no improvement.


Principles Implementation of principle VII which is concerned with respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief was affected by the suspension of martial law in Poland on 30 December 1982. In spite of suspension of martial law in Poland, several features of its regulatins are still in force, a number of associations are still suspended and Solidarity and other pre-martial law trade unions have been dissolved. Travel abroad is still restricted, and censorship of the press and media continues. A number of Polish citizens are still imprisoned for their political beliefs. Polish official statements admit to a figure of between 100 and 200 with some 450 people pending trial; unofficial sources place this much higher. Several former leaders of Solidarity and leaders of the workers defence committee (KOR) are still awaiting trial. Sentences handed down by the courts vary in their severity. Zbigniew Romaszewski was sentenced to four and a half years imprisonment and his wife to three years for operating Radio Solidarity. Anna Walentynowicz, a prominent Solidarity member in Gdansk, was convicted in March of illegal trade union activity under martial law. She received a suspended sentence. Edmund Baluka, an independent trade unionist has now been sentenced to five years imprisonment for seeking to overthrow Poland's socio-political system. Former Solidarity activitists are liable to various forms of harassment including dismissal from their jobs. A new law which came into effect in January 1983, required that men aged 18–45, not employed for at least 3 months and not registering as job seekers, should provide an explanation. An unsatisfactory explanation, could result in compulsory labour at the state's discretion. Under new regulations introduced on 30 December 1982, workers in some sectors of industry are not free to leave their place of employment or seek new jobs without the consent of their employers. The Soviet Union's record in the Field of human rights remains poor. Soviet action against human rights, religious and other activists of various kinds continues. Despite hopes that Academician Andrei Sakharov might be allowed to take up one of the invitations he has received from Western European academic institutions, TASS stated on 11 May that he was unable to go abroad for reasons of national security. He has also been refused permission to visit Moscow for hospital treatment. Anatoly Shcharansky ended his hunger strike in February. Yuri Orlov has again been placed in the internal prison in his labour camp at Perm, allegedly for breaking camp regulations. A promiment human rights activist, Alexander Lavut, was not released after completing his sentence in April and new charges are reported to have been brought against him. This practice of resentencing of dissidents is becoming increasingly widespread. Action has also been taken against the 'Solzhenitsyn fund' which provides aid to Soviet prisoners of conscience and their families. Its administrator, Sergei Khodorovich, was arrested on 7 April. Attempts to repress the unofficial Group for the Establishment of Trust between the USSR and USA also persist. Alexander Shatravka and Vladimir Mishchenko, who had collected signatures on the Group's behalf, were sentenced on 26 March to three and one year respectively. Members of the unofficial trade union, the Free Inter-Professional Association of Soviet workers (SMOT), have also been the targets for criminal proceedings. Valery Senderov was sentenced on 28 February to a maximum penalty of seven years in labour camp and five years exile. A founder-member of SMOT, Vladimir Skvirsky, was tried for the third time and sentenced on 18 February to three and a half years. On 24 May Lev Volokhonsky was sentenced to five years in labour camp and four years exile for anti-Soviet activity. Vyacheslav Bakhmin, a founding member of the Working Committee for Investigating Psychiatry far Political Purposes, was at the end of his labour camp term immediately resentenced on 4 March to a further one year in a labour camp. Following pressure for Soviet expulsion from the World Psychiatry Association, the Soviet Union resigned from the Association in February. Religious activists continue to attract considerable persecution. By June some 180 Baptists were serving or awaiting sentence. Christian activists were among those to be arrested and resentenced. Fr Alfonsas Svarinskas, a Lithuanian priest, was sentenced on 6 May to seven years in a strict regime camp and three in exile. Iosif Terelya is awaiting trial after announcing the establishment of a group to defend the rights of believers in the banned Ukrainian Uniate Church. Zoya Krakhmalnikova, the editor of an unofficial Russian Orthodox spiritual journal, was sentenced on 1 April to one year in labour camp and five years internal exile. Action against Jewish activists and attempts to suppress Jewish cultura and religious freedoms persist. Yuri Tarnopolsky was arrested in March and sentenced to three years on 30 June for libelling the state, while Simon Shnirman and Lev Elbert were sentenced on 14 February and 31 March to one and three years in the camps respectively for alleged offences connected with the call-up. On 19 January Boris Kanevsky, a mathematician who had gathered evidence of discrimination against Jewish students, was sentenced to five years internal exile for slandering the Soviet state. Members of national minorities also continue to be arrested and tried, including the prominent Georgian activist, Valentina Pailodze in May and Lagle Parek, an Estonian, in March. The human rights record in other Eastern European countries also shows no signs of change. In Czechoslovakia 20 Franciscan friars were arrested in May and some still remain in detention on the charge of illegal religious activities. In January, Ladislav Lis, one of the spokesmen of Charter '77 was arrested for alleged 'incitement to rebellion'. He has not yet been tried.

Confidence and security-building measures Military exercises took place in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe during the last six months. Most involved fewer than 25,000 men; prior notification was therefore voluntary and was not made. Examples of such exercises were Danube 83 in Hungary in January and Soyuz 83, a Warsaw Pact joint command and staff exercise taking place from the end of May to early June on the territory of the German Democratic Republic, Poland and Czechoslovakia. However, the Soviet Union, in accordance with the final act, has notified CSCE countries of an unnamed Soviet military exercise which took place between 29 June and 4 July and which involved Soviet military and naval forces amounting to a total of about 50,000 men. Observers from other CSCE participating states have not been invited to any of these exercises.

'CO-OPERATION IN THE FIELD OF ECONOMICS, OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY, AND OF THE ENVIRONMENT' (BASKET II) There has been little progress in the field of economic co-operation during the last six months. Lack of foreign exchange and high foreign debt in most Eastern European countries have restricted economic and trade relations. High hotel rates are being charged to visiting businessmen in hard currency. In the German Democratic Republic hotel rates for foreigners payable in hard currency rose 25 per cent. in January. These rates are now more than twice as high as those charged to nationals. In Czechoslovakia hotel rates are twice as much as those paid by nationals and in Romania high rates are charged for hotels, housing and medical care in comparison with those charged to nationals. The USSR has reiterated its interest in a high-level meeting on co-operation in transport, and in the establishment of an integrated European power grid. Statistical information remains poor in most East European countries. The German Democratic Republic continues to refuse to publish data on balance of payments, foreign debt and foreign trade, with detailed breakdowns according to countries and goods exchanged. The Soviet Union continued to withhold important economic statistics.

'CO-OPERATION IN HUMANITARIAN AND OTHER FIELDS' (BASKET III) The deterioration in Soviet and Eastern European performance in the field of human contacts has continued over the past six months. In the Soviet Union there have been reports of potential Jewish emigrants being told that exit visas had been refused for life, and other means have been used to discourage applications for emigration. For example, some people have been told that the requisite invitations from close relatives abroad can now be accepted only for a single exit visa application. If the application is refused, it cannot then be renewed until a new invitationis received. Jewish, ethnic German and Armenian emigration has been drastically reduced. In the first five months of this year the total number of Soviet Jews emigrating via Vienna was only 537. A few individuals have been allowed to leave, including a Pentecostalist family some of whose members sought refuge in the United States embassy in Moscow in 1978; Sergei Batovrin, a member of the Group to Establish Trust between the USSR and USA; and the writer Georgy Vladimov. Implementation in the field of information remains unchanged. Western radio stations, including the BBC Russian and Polish services, continue to be jammed by the Soviet Union; some East European countries are also jamming Western broadcasts. There has been no change in implementation in the fields of culture and education.