Levich Says His Struggle to Emigrate is a Matter of Life and Death

Prof. Benjamin Levich said today that he has been condemned to the life of a “pariah” in the Soviet Union and that his struggle to emigrate had become a matter of “death or life.” Levich spoke by telephone with scientists and journalists at a press conference called here to explain next week’s international conference at Oxford University in honor of the Soviet Jewish activist’s 60th birthday. Levich and his wife, Tanya, put the call through from a public telephone booth in Moscow to the London International Press Center where the press conference was held.

Levich said he had applied to Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev and to the President of the Soviet Academy of Sciences, of which he is a corresponding member, for permission to attend the Oxford conference on physical chemistry and hydrodynamics, his special field. But there has been no reply and Levich said he was “very sad at being prevented from being with you.” He expressed hope that “common sense and decency will prevail and that I will be treated as scientist and a human being.”

Levich said that events like next week’s conference would be his salvation in the long run. In the Soviet Union, he was “in limbo,” cut off from normal scientific life. Mrs. Levich said she feared “renewed danger” for her husband under the new Soviet constitution because anyone could be prosecuted for being involved in activities deemed harmful to the “prestige” of the Soviet state. Levich will not stop fighting for his rights both as a scientist and an ordinary person, despite this danger, his wife asserted. “His conscience and his moral principles will not allow him to stop,” she said.

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