State Department Decision Due Soon on Rigerman Citizenship; Nixon Aware of Case

A State Department decision on Leonid Rigerman’s citizenship is due within days, his American legal representative reported today after a meeting with officials yesterday in Washington. “There is a reasonably good chance” that Rigerman, the 30-year-old Russian-born Jew, and Mrs. Esther Rigerman, his 60-year-old Brooklyn-born mother, will be granted United States citizenship, said Daniel Greer, New York’s First Deputy Commissioner for Ports and Terminals. He added that he could not see how the State Department could fail to help the “heroic” Rigermans, who have been physically prevented by Soviet authorities from entering the American Embassy in Moscow. President Nixon’s fury over the Coast Guard’s recent thwarting of an attempted defection by a Lithuanian suggests he is sympathetic to the Rigermans, Greer noted. A White House spokesman would say yesterday only that Nixon “is aware” of the case. One of the State Department officials Greer met with yesterday was Martin J. Hillenbrand, Assistant Secretary for European Affairs. It was he who last month advised Seymour Graubard, national chairman of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, that the State Department feared to raise the Soviet Jewish problem openly with the Kremlin because it would be dismissed as “merely cold-war propaganda” and in fact, be counter-productive.

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