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French Jewish Leader Accompanies Mitterrand to Moscow, Will Press Issue of Soviet Jews on All Levels

Theo Klein, president of the Representative Council of Major French Jewish Organizations (CRIF), is accompanying President Francois Mitterrand on his official visit to Moscow as the President’s personal guest. They arrived in Moscow late today and are due back Saturday.

Klein told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency before his departure that he was invited by the President and that he intends to raise the question of Soviet Jewry at “all possible levels” in the USSR and to press the Soviet authorities to ease the restrictions that have reduced Jewish emigration almost to nil this past year and to release imprisoned Jewish and non-Jewish dissidents.

Official sources here said Mitterrand will do all he can to facilitate the CRIF leader’s meetings with top level Soviet authorities during the trip.

There has been considerable pressure on Mitterrand to cancel his visit to Moscow and meeting with Soviet President Konstantin Chernenko because of the exile of Andrei Sakharov, the Nobel Laureate in physics and his wife, Yelena Bonner in Gorki, nearly five years ago. Sakharov, the most prominent dissident in the Soviet Union, was reported to be seriously ill after a hunger strike.

But Mitterrand reportedly accepted at face value Soviet claims that the Sakharovs are in good health and “leading normal lives.” French sources said he believes his trip can help improve East-West relations and ease the human rights situation in the Soviet Union.