WASHINGTON (Jun. 22)
With the emigration of Vitaly Rubin, Vladimir Slepak, the longest waiting “refusnik” in Moscow, has become a member of the Public Group to Assist the Fulfillment of the Helsinki Accords in the USSR, filling the vacancy caused by Rubin’s departure, the Union of Councils for Soviet Jews reported.
Led by scientist-dissident Yuri Orlov, members of the group formed on May 13, 1976, include Yelena Bonner, the wife of Andrei Sakharov; Alexsandr Ginzburg, Anatoly Marchenko and Pyotri Grigorenko, all prominent in the human rights dissident movement in the Soviet Union. Besides Slepak, the other representative of the Jewish emigration movement is Anatoly Sharansky who, together with Slepak, is one of the leaders of the refusnik community in Moscow from whom the Union of Councils for Soviet Jews learned of this new development.
Meanwhile, the Washington Committee for Soviet Jewry reported that Slepak’s wife, Masha, has divorced her husband so that she and her 17-year-old son Leonid can apply to emigrate separately. Masha’s health, undermined by many years of nervous tension, has deteriorated in the last few months. She is suffering from serious vascular and endocrinal disorders and needs immediate medical care which she could get in Israel.
A group of leading Soviet refusniks including Dr. Alexander Lerner, Ida Nudel, Anatoly Sharansky, Dina and Yosef Beilin, and others, wrote to emigration movement leaders in the West that “the tragic fate of this remarkable family is well known, kept back in the USSR for more than seven years and suffering constant and uninterrupted persecution.” They appeal for a major campaign for the release of Masha Slepak and her son, to include doctors and other public figures.
It was learned by the Washington Committee that Masha has been refused an exit visa, even though the official reason for her being detained for seven years has been her husband’s alleged knowledge of “secrets.” She was told by Ovir: “We don’t destroy families. We know that the Slepaks are one family.”