NEW YORK (Nov. 3)
Former refusenik David Goldfarb has been diagnosed as having lung cancer and will undergo surgery for it Wednesday at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center here, where he has been a patient since his arrival October 16 aboard industrialist Armand Hammer’s private jet.
Goldfarb, who sought to emigrate with his family since 1979, issued a plea from his hospital bed Sunday for Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to allow his daughter Olga, her husband Lev, and their two daughters, Katya, 10, and Nadia, 4, to join him in the West. They first applied to emigrate in 1979.
In his letter to Gorbachev, Goldfarb asked that his daughter and family be permitted to join him as a humanitarian gesture.
“I cannot offer any justification for giving this privilege to my daughter except perhaps for the fact that 45 years ago I made a contribution to the Soviet state on the battlefield of Stalingrad … Your recent reform in other areas makes me believe that change is possible” in the Soviet policy on emigration, he wrote. The letter was drafted into English by his son, Alex Goldfarb.
David Goldfarb, 67, a retired geneticist, was released suddenly from his Moscow hospital bed last month upon the personal intervention of Hammer with Soviet leaders, and immediately flown to the United States with his wife Cecilia. His release followed a long campaign for his freedom by Alex, 39, a microbiologist at Columbia-Presbyterian who immigrated to Israel in 1975. Alex has been on the Columbia staff since 1982.
David Goldfarb has been suffering from severe complications of diabetes, including partial amputation of his foot. Goldfarb lost his other leg as a Soviet war hero in the Battle of Stalingrad during World War II. He also suffers from heart disease.
David Goldfarb’s cancer diagnosis was made last Wednesday by Dr. Kenneth Prager, attending physician and a colleague of Alex Goldfarb. Alex Goldfarb indicated that his father’s prognosis was uncertain.
Goldfarb’s case became front-page news when his son went public with the information that David Goldfarb had refused a request by the KGB to help frame his friend, American reporter Nicholas Daniloff, in 1984. During Daniloff’s month-long incarceration following his August 30 arrest for alleged espionage, Goldfarb offered to testify in his behalf.
Alex Goldfarb feared for his father’s life and appealed to world leaders and the American media for his father’s release, including a trip to Iceland during the Reagan-Gorbachev summit meeting to push for his father’s freedom.