SOVIET UNION

Setting The Captives Free?

Konstantin Kharchev, the Soviet official in charge of religious affairs, has assured U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) that “by November, all prisoners of faith [in the Soviet Union] will be freed.”

During a meeting in Washington, D.C., Lugar called for the amnesty of more than 200 Christian prisoners jailed for religious reasons, the lifting of restrictions on the religious education of children, permission for churches to perform charitable work, and the printing of the Bible and other religious materials. The senator also urged the reopening of churches, the cessation of official attacks on churches, and approval for a greater number of Christians and Jews to emigrate.

Lugar’s office said Kharchev admitted the Soviet Union’s 70-year history contains many difficult pages. “We … recognize we committed mistakes in our relations with religion,” the Soviet official said. “Many problems you mention we are trying to correct.”

A statement released by Lugar’s office after the meeting expressed cautious optimism. “Even while the Soviets talk about ‘glasnost,’ many enormous problems remain,” the statement read. “Whether these steps of improvement are evidence of a broad new spirit of tolerance or simply token gestures remains to be seen.”

ETHIOPIA

Another Famine

A former Ethiopian official in charge of famine relief says hunger is spreading rapidly in that impoverished African nation.

“It appears there are now about 5 million people affected by famine …,” said Dawit Wolde Giorgis, who defected to the United States in 1985. “In what is now considered a normal year, 3 million Ethiopians ...

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