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Latvian gets stiff sentence in alien-literature case

A Latvian accused of possessing Latvian literature from abroad, including a translation of George Orwell's, ''1984'' was given the harshest sentence allowed by Soviet law in the latest series of political trials in Riga, Soviet Latvia.

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Gunars Astra was sentenced Wednesday to seven years' strict regime imprisonment, followed by five years' internal exile, according to Latvian emigre sources.

Sources said the trial judge cited ''the tense international situation'' to justify harsh punishment for Mr. Astra, also accused of possessing a novel about contemporary Latvia by a Latvian author living in California.

Latvian sources said the citing of international tensions was a disturbing development, and followed commentary in the Latvian press blaming US missile deployment in Europe for any problem.

Given a lighter sentence was Gunars Freimanis, a poet accused of holding unauthorized poetry readings and circulating uncensored poems with nationalist themes.

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