WASHINGTON (Sep. 14)
Senators and cancer researchers have urged the Soviet Union to let five Jewish refuseniks suffering from advanced cancer come to the West for treatment and to be with their families.
The five have a right to try to get treatment not available in the USSR and “to live in a supportive environment in facing the real possibility of death,” Dr. Gerald Batist, a Montreal cancer researcher, told a press conference here last Thursday. “This means being with their families.” Batist founded the International Cancer Patients Solidarity Committee after examining some of the five on a trip to the Soviet Union last spring.
The press conference, which included members of the cancer victims’ families, was organized by Batist and Sens. Frank Lautenberg (D. NJ) and John Kerry (D. Mass.).
In July, Lautenberg initiated a letter to President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, signed by 57 Senators, urging that the ill refuseniks be allowed to leave the USSR.
At the press conference, Warren Zimmerman, chief of the United States delegation to the upcoming International Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, said, “When we get to Vienna, we will put this case in the forefront of our efforts in dealing with the Soviet Union.”
Sen. Pete Wilson (R. Cal.) said the gathering Thursday stressed themes “that transcend nationality or political ideology. They are freedom, health and family.” Lautenberg said “We’d like to put aside global politics. The request is very simple: Give them a chance to live.” Sen. Gary Hart (D. Colo.) noted that “to reunite each with their loved ones is now more than just a matter of humanitarianism. It is a race against time.”
THE FIVE PATIENTS
The five patients are:
Dr. Benjamin Charney, 48, of Moscow, who has skin cancer, a tumor on his neck and a serious heart condition. His brother, Leon, lives in Needham, Mass.
Tatyana Bogomolny, 48, of Moscow, who has breast cancer and has undergone a radical mastectomy. Her father, Ilya, and sister, Natalya, live in San Francisco.
Rimma Bravve, 31, of Moscow, who has advanced ovarian cancer. Her mother lives in Rochester, N.Y.
Leah Maryasin, 61, of Riga, who has several tumors. Her daughter Rita lives in Israel.
Inna Meiman, 53, of Moscow, who is married to human rights activist Nahum Meiman. She has a malignant tumor on her neck.
The letter sent by Lautenberg and other Senators also mentions a seven-year-old Odessa boy, Edward Erlikh, who is dying of leukemia and needs a bone marrow transplant operation. Lautenberg said the boy’s aunt and uncle, Igor and Malvina Erlikh, of Brooklyn, NY, have offered to pay for the treatment and care for him.
Also participating in the press conference were two cancer researchers from the National Cancer Institute, Drs. Bruce Chabner and Steven Rosenberg; and Sens. Alan Cranston (D. Cal.), Paul Simon (D. Ill.) and Alfonse D’Amato (R. N.Y).