OXFORD (Jul. 11)
A conference of 100 scientists today sent a cable to the president of the Soviet Academy of Sciences requesting that the man in whose honor the conference is being held here, Prof. Benjamin Levich, should be allowed to attend it.
The 60-year-old scientist, victimized in the Soviet Union since applying to leave for Israel in 1972, is due to deliver the final paper at Somerville College on Wednesday. However, there is only the faintest hope that this last minute request for Levich’s presence will be granted.
Levich’s application for a visa to attend the conference was ignored by the Soviet authorities. No other Soviet scientists are present, even though 300 were invited. All turned down the invitations, some cordially, others more brusquely.
The conference covers the fields of physical chemistry and hydrodynamics, in which Levich’s influence is recognized all over the world. The scientists attending the conference hail from 14 countries and its sponsors include 15 presidents of leading scientific institutes and 20 Nobel Laureates.
Levich’s two scientist sons, who were allowed to emigrate to Israel two years ago, are at the conference. One of them, Evgeny, spent a year in a Soviet labor camp because of his demand to settle in Israel.
Levich’s request to emigrate was originally rejected because of his past connection with nuclear research. However, he ceased to deal with classified work as long ago as 1949. Between 1957 and 1971, Levich was allowed to travel regularly to Britain, Italy, Yugoslavia and the United States.
Last week, he and his wife, Tanya expressed their gratitude for the Oxford conference when they spoke on the telephone to its chairman, Sir Derek Barton. Levich said that, since he had been cut off from scientific work in the Soviet Union, emigration had become a “matter of life and death.” His wife expressed the feat that he might be prosecuted because of his unrelenting struggle.
According to news reports arriving here from Moscow, Levich told correspondents at his Moscow apartment today that it was a “bad sign” that he had not been allowed to attend the Oxford conference. He said he had hoped till the very last minute that he and his wife would be allowed to go to the conference. This hope decreased all the time, and now, of course, it is just zero,” he said. “It is impossible to say what is in store for me, but nevertheless it is a bad sign.”