Statement on the Death of Valeriy Marchenko

October 15, 1984

We have learned very recently of the death in a Leningrad prison hospital on October 7 of Valeriy Marchenko. Mr. Marchenko, who was only 37 years old, was one of the Soviet Union's most prominent human rights activists.

A journalist by profession, Mr. Marchenko had already served 8 years in prison -- an ordeal which he barely survived. Nonetheless, this past March he was sentenced to an additional 10 years of imprisonment and 5 years of internal exile because he had written articles criticizing the harshness of Soviet labor camps and the violations of human and national rights in the Ukraine. It is reported that an appeal by his family for amelioration of his conditions, based on his precarious health, was refused by the Soviet authorities.

We are deeply saddened and enraged by Mr. Marchenko's needless death. His brave struggle for individual liberties is an inspiration to all of us. And his death brings home the tragedy of the deteriorating human rights situation in the Soviet Union, a situation which all Americans deeply deplore.