Orthodox America

  The Cry of the New Martyrs Irina Ratushinskaya

Vigil for Irina in Britain

     With the aim of drawing attention to the plight of Irina Ratushinskaya (32), an Anglican priest, Rev. Dr. Richard Rodgers spent Western Lent in conditions approximating those of the Soviet punishment cell where the imprisoned poetess has spent 6 months since her trial in 1983. Clad only in an undershirt, running shorts and socks (those placed in punishment ceils are stripped to their underclothes although temperatures do not rise above 8 degrees C), Dr. Rodgers subsisted on rations of bread and water. He slept on a board with only one blanket and no mattress. Dr. Rodgers stressed that this vigil, held at Saint Martin's Church in Birmingham, England, was a purely spiritual venture, to express solidarity with Irina and to enable the public in the West to see something of the conditions in which she and similar prisoners of conscience are held.

     A meeting scheduled for early April between Irina and her husband and mother was cancelled as punishment for Irina's failure to stand up for the doctor who came to see her. Reportedly. Irina' s health has so deteriorated that she is incapable of standing at all (her blood pressure is dangerously high, the lower reading being 150), and camp authorities cancelled the visit because they did not want word getting out about just how bad Irina's condition really is. (Sources: KNS #245 and 249)

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