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Refusenik Kids Write Reagan to Help Them Reach Israel

It has been three months since 11-year-old Samantha Smith of Maine visited the Soviet Union at the invitation of Soviet leader Yuri Andropov after having written to him, but her trip continues to fire the imagination of children whose families remain trapped in the USSR.

On October 9, according to the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry (SSSJ), 9-year-old Mikhail Kondrashin and his 10-year-old sister Kira of Moscow mailed a letter to President Reagan asking to be invited to meet him in the White House and seeking his aid to emigrate to Israel where they could freely speak Hebrew and celebrate the Sabbath. “We also want to visit America so we can see Walt Disney cartoons,” they added.

Mikhail, Kira and their mother Inna Brokhina have been refused exit since 1979.

This is the third known letter by children sent in the wake of the Samantha Smith episode, the SSSJ said. In May, 9-year-old Avi Goldstein of Tbilisi wrote to Samantha, asking her to deliver a message directly to Andropov for the freedom of his family, who had been refused emigration to Israel even prior to his birth. Samantha never saw Andropov during her trip.

In June, 12-year-old Irinia Tamopolsky of Kharkov wrote to Andropov to defend her father who was about to stand trial for “anti-Soviet slander” after watching a Soviet TV interview with Samantha. There was no response, and her father was sentenced to three years.

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