THE FATE of a Catholic Russian poet serving seven years' hard labour for alleged anti-Soviet propaganda spurred some of England's top authors to protest last weekend.
Lady Antonia Pinter, Ian McEwan and Marina Warner were among the London writers who stood outside the Russian Consulate on Saturday to demand for Irina Ratushinskaya's release.
Imprisoned in 1983 for writing verses which defended human rights. Ratushinskaya has been kept in solitary confinement at a women's camp 300 miles south of Moscow: the harsh treatment and conditions there have led to her present critical condition, including high blood pressure and kidney disease.
Ratushinskaya, whose poems have been smuggled out of her labour camp, has elicited wide praise in the West, for her verses. Protests on her behalf took place in New York last weekend, outside the Soviet mission, and are planned in Washington, Stockholm and Paris.