The wife of imprisoned Soviet human rights activist Yuri Orlov said today she had been informed officially that her 58-year-old husband has been placed in a prison clinic with skull and brain injuries. She said she was "in despair" w0057 ----- r a BC-06/09/83-ORLOV 06-09 0001 Orlov's Wife: Soviet Dissident Taken To Prison Clinic With Head Injuries By Dusko Doder Washington Post Foreign Service

MOSCOW, June 8--The wife of imprisoned Soviet human rights activist Yuri Orlov said today she had been informed officially that her 58-year-old husband has been placed in a prison clinic with skull and brain injuries. She said she was "in despair" over an official rejection of clemency for him and appealed to the West for help to win his release.

The rejection, Irina Orlov said, stated that her husband was recovering from a "skull and brain trauma," that he is under medical care and that his condition was "satisfactory."

She said she had earlier appealed to Soviet leader Yuri Andropov in seeking a medical reprieve for Orlov, a physicist and member of the Academy of Sciences of Armenia who was one of the founders of the now defunct Moscow Helsinki Watch human rights committee.

Irina Orlov said that apparently in response to her appeal, she received a letter from a deputy prosecutor, R. Gaynalin, in Chucuvoy, in the Urals, where her husband is held in a prison camp. The letter did not provide any details as to how Orlov had suffered the injuries but said that "he is making no complaints."

Last January, Irina Orlov charged that her husband had been severely beaten in the presence of prison officials and that he was not given medical attention.

In a letter to Max Kampelman, the chief U.S. representative at the European security conference in Madrid, she said she was "in despair" and that she believed "only extraordinary attempts from the West can help win my husband's release and prevent him from dying in a Soviet concentration camp."

Orlov, whose group was established to monitor Soviet compliance with the human rights provisions of an agreement reached in Helsinki in 1975, was sentenced in 1978 to seven years in prison camp followed by five years of internal exile.

The penalty was imposed under Article 70 of the criminal code, which deals with anti-Soviet agitation. Orlov had been active in exposing Soviet violations of human rights. A key element of the charge was that he transmitted reports to western correspondents and diplomats in Moscow.

Irina Orlov said the rejection of her plea for clemency cited that Orlov had been convicted of "especially dangerous crimes" against the state and hence did not qualify for a medical reprieve. She said she already had information that her husband had been maltreated in prison and that the deputy prosecutor's letter, which she received yesterday, now provided official evidence.

Orlov, a graduate of Moscow University, had been employed by the Institute of Theoretical and Experimental Physics here until his dismissal for dissident activities. He was known as a zealous and skillful organizer who brought together disparate strands of dissent into a movement demanding fulfillment of Moscow's human rights promises made at Helsinki.

Among other members of the Helsinki Watch group, Anatoly Scharansky, a Jewish activist, is in a prison camp and physicist Andrei Sakharov, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his activities, is in internal exile.

The committee announced its disbandment last September in a move that signified an end to organized political dissent. The decision was taken after one of its three remaining members, lawyer Sofia Kalistratova, 75, was warned that she would face charges of anti-Soviet agitation if she continued her activities.