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USSR Using Helsinki Accords As Excuse to Withhold Emigration Visas

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The Soviet government in recent months has refused visas to emigrate to Israel on the grounds that applicants would be leaving close relatives (i.e. parents) in the USSR. The National Conference on Soviet Jewry (NCSJ) has learned that applicants from Moscow, Vilnius, Leningrad, Kishinev and other cities have been refused visas because the e Helsinki agreement, which provides for the reunification of families, would be “violated.” Refusniks have recently petitioned for written refusals but a high Soviet official in a recent meeting claimed that the ovir does not have to give any reason for one’s refusal.

Meanwhile, harassment against prominent Soviet Jewish activists continues across the USSR, the NCSJ reported. Lev Ovsischer of Minsk was recently cited in a newspaper account and accused of “anti-Soviet activities.” The paper appealed to the “voice of the people” saying that Ovsischer’s activities must be stopped and it was time to “finish with him.” At the same time, it was learned that Mikhail Mager staged a hunger strike earlier this month to protest against his continued denial of a visa and plans to continue the strike indefinitely.

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