NEW YORK (Oct. 23)
Three major Jewish activists in Moscow, all with advanced academic degrees, have been granted permission to leave the Soviet Union without paying the excessive visa taxes levied on educated Soviet citizens, the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry informed the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today.
A SSSJ spokesman said the organization learned today that exit visas have been granted to Gavriel Shapiro, Roman Rutman and Mikhail Kliachkin. Shapiro, who began serving a one-year sentence at "corrective labor" last month for alleged draft evasion has had his sentence suspended and will leave the Soviet Union within ten days, his American wife, Judy Silver Shapiro, told the JTA today.
"I’m in ecstasy, in shock, I don’t believe it," said Mrs. Shapiro, a Cincinnati social worker who was married to Gavriel in a religious ceremony at his Moscow home last June but was denied a civil marriage by the Soviet authorities. She told the JTA that she was planning to fly to Vienna to meet her husband. She said she got the good news in a telephone conversation with Gavriel this morning which she made from the B’nai B’rith Hillel Foundation at Syracuse University.
Mrs. Shapiro, who has been appealing to the US government to intervene in her husband’s behalf since she returned to this country after being ousted from Russia following her marriage, said today, "I suppose the American government came to my rescue at a very high level." But, she added that she had no proof of that. She said Gavriel told her that a fellow activist, Mark Nashpitz, did not get permission to leave.
Shapiro, 28, a chemical engineer graduate of Moscow University, first applied for an exit visa to go to Israel in Feb. 1971. Roman Rutman, 38, who was a professor of technical sciences at the Institute of Radio Engineering in Moscow, had applied for his visa in March, 1971. Kliachkin, who is in his early 20s, is an aeronautical engineer. It is not known when he applied for a visa.
(See separate story Page 3 for reactions to reports on the waiver of head tax.)