Aleksandr Ginzburg, the Soviet dissident released from a harsh eight year "special regime" prison term in April, chatted in the midst of a Washington political cocktail party last night, at ease with a Stroh's beer in his hand.
Ginzburg, one of 10 individuals and institutions honored last night by the Coalition for a Democratic Majority, described his last months in the United States, living with the most famous of the Soviet dissidents, Alexander Solzhenitsyn. "I am amazed that Solzhenitsyn works much more than we did in the prison camp. He spends 10 hours a day working," said Ginzburg, smiling. By his side and translating his remarks was fellow dissident, Vladimir Bukovsky.
In addition to the excitement caused by the presence of Ginzburg and Bukovsky, who was expelled by the Soviets in 1976 and now lives in England, last night's dinner was also charged with anticipation about Sen. Henry Jackson's foreign policy speech. Released yesterday afternoon to the press, the speech was highly critical of the trust the United States has placed in the Soviet Union since the last SALT treaty.
Jackson (D-wash.) and the other honorary co-chairman of the dinner, Sen. Daniel P. Moynihan (D-N.Y.) were delayed in the Senate. Between the time the guests sat down to dinner at 8 p.m. and the senators arrived at 9:15 there was a lull during which the president's son, Chip Carter, circulated, the chairman of the board of Con Ed, Charles Luce, left, and many of the trade unionists and administration officials present walked around greeting old friends.
On the dais, Ginzburg was seated next to Penny Kaniclides, a founder and president of a coumputer financial system that is now a subsidiary of Western Union. Kaniclides is a tall, striking blond whose tan made everyone else look as if they had been in prison a dozen years. Afterwards, she said that she and Ginzburg had talked about the length of his prison term.
When Jackson and Moynihan arrived, Moynihan went directly to the microphone and spoke of the bravery of the people being honored. Jackson sat down and ate dinner while the awards were given out. Honored by the coalition were Ida Nudel, a Soviet dissident who was exiled in Siberia; Yonatan Netanyahu, the commander of the Israeli rescue mission at Entebbe, Uganda in 1976, who died in the rescue; Huber Matos, a Cuban political prisoner; Charles Malik, former president of the U.N. General Assembly; S. Harrison Dogole, a major Democratic fund-raiser; the Wall Street Journal's editorial page, Freedom House; and the AFL-CIO.
Jackson's remarks were warmly but not enthusiastically received. "My friends, we have been making too many gratuitous concessions," said Jackson, characterizing the recent foreign policy toward the Soviet Union as "appeasement". Afterwards, Evan Dobelle, chairman of the Carter-Mondale President Committee said, "The senator votes with the president 90 percent of the time, so if he differs once in a while that's his prerogative."
At the reception preceding the dinner at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, the political personalities and human rights activists mingled. Energy Secretary James Schlesinger had a steady line of callers. A few complained about long gasoline lines, Schlesinger said, "but more were just old friends." Schlesinger posed with Maria deMatos, the wife of the Cuban prisoner, and her son Huber.
For the 20 years her husband has been in prison, Maria deMatos has been living in Elizabeth, N.J., but she plans to move to Miami next month "because of the climate and wanting to be near my two sons." She did not mention the real reason: Her husband will complete his term in October but it is not known if he will be released.
During the evening, some of the coalition officials, including chairman Ben Wattenberg, were openly critical of what they called "a relaxation" of the Carter administration's human rights policy. "I wouldn't say that's true," said Chip Carter."If you ask any of the dissidents why they are any of the dissidents why they are here they will tell you my daddy got them out."
Bukovsky, for one, disagreed. "Unfortunately he hasn't maintained a strong human rights policy," he said. He spoke of his friendship with Ginzburg, whom he had not seen since 1966. "While he was in prison, I was out," he said shrugging his shoulders. "The last time I saw him was a sad occasion; our friends were demonstrating and many were arrested. The next day I was sentenced to three years and the next day he was sentenced to five years. At one time, we were transported to the same cell but he had left three days before." CAPTION: Picture, Chip Carter and Aleksandr Ginzburg; by Harry Naltchayan