Message to Lidiya and Augustina Vashchenko, Hunger Strikers in the United States Embassy in Moscow

January 29, 1982

Dear Augustina and Lidiya:

I want you to know of my deep personal concern for your health and your lives, which now are placed in extreme jeopardy by the hunger strike you have undertaken. My distress is shared by your many other friends and well-wishers here in the United States and elsewhere throughout the world, who join me in urging you to abandon this course before it is too late.

Please understand that you and the other members of the Vashchenko and Chmykhalov families are not alone as you pursue your brave and determined effort for emigration. Those who work on your behalf, and I have long counted myself among them, are many, and their efforts are unflagging.

Since becoming President, I have directed my Administration to do everything possible to assist you in reaching your goal. We have been in touch with Soviet officials at high levels to seek resolution of this question. I remain committed to seeking your emigration, as well as that of the other members of your family and the Chmykhalov family. I am determined to continue our efforts, and am hopeful that a solution can be found.

I ask you not to lose faith but to take heart from the sincere commitment of your many supporters. I urge you to abandon your hunger strike, and to continue your courageous course, a struggle that is an inspiration to all who value religious freedom and individual human rights.

Sincerely,

Ronald Reagan