NEW YORK (Nov. 23)
Refusenik Rimma Bravve of Moscow, who is suffering from ovarian cancer, has allegedly received permission to leave for the United States, where she can be treated for her illness.
However, although this information was publicly announced last Thursday in Vienna by the Soviet Ambassador to the Helsinki Review meetings, Viktor Kashlev, neither Bravve herself nor her husband, Vladimir, have been told of the decision, according to her sister, Larisa Shapiro, a Soviet emigre who lives in Rochester, NY.
Shapiro was notified of the public announcement Thursday by the U.S. Ambassador to the Vienna talks, Warren Zimmerman, and by Sen. Alfonse D’Amato (R. NY), who has been in contact with Zimmerman and is trying to assist Shapiro in getting her ailing sister to the U.S.
Shapiro said she had been told by D’Amato that it was a “normal situation” to have a third party announce the granting of a visa while the actual recipient hadn’t been notified.
The 32-year-old Bravve’s medical condition is tenuous — her sister described her as being in the last stage of the cancer.
VISAS NOT YET RECEIVED
Kashlev made the announcement as part of a speech before 36 delegates to the talks, saying that Bravve and her husband received exit visas Wednesday. But Vladimir Bravve, speaking with Shapiro by telephone both on Thursday and Saturday, said the couple had not yet received visas.
Vladimir went to the OVIR emigration office and to the Central Bureau of the Communist Party in Moscow Friday, where he was told the decision was not yet made. He left letters in both places saying that the granting of visas had been announced in Vienna.
Shapiro recently returned from Vienna, where she went with her mother, Khanna Anbinder; Leon Charney, brother of Benjamin Charney, another Moscow refusenik cancer patient; and Dr. Gerald Batist, a Montreal oncologist deeply concerned with the plight of Soviet Jewish cancer patients who have been refused visas and are in desperate need of advanced treatment techniques available in the West.
The group, who spoke on behalf of their families as well as all the refusenik cancer patients, pushed for Bravve’s immediate transfer to New York for an experimental treatment for her form of cancer which is available at the Mt. Sinai Hospital here. A Mt. Sinai oncologist, Dr. Howard Bruckner, told Batist he would make his services available to Bravve without cost.
Batist organized the International Cancer Patients’ Solidarity Committee and visited Bravve and Tatiana Bogomolny in Moscow in March. (Bogomolny got her exit visa in September and is now in San Francisco, being treated for breast cancer). Batist issued a televised appeal Friday to industrialist Armand Hammer to fly Bravve out of Moscow. Hammer succeeded in October in obtaining the release of long-time refusenik David Goldfarb, who was hospitalized in Moscow, and flying him to the U.S. on his private jet.
AN UPSETTING STORY
Shapiro told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency Sunday that her sister was “very, very excited” about her prospects of leaving. Rimma Bravve’s story is particularly upsetting in that she and her husband were in possession of not only visas but airline tickets to the U.S. in 1980. The couple, who first applied to emigrate in February 1979, received visas in December 1979.
Shapiro told JTA the Bravves were supposed to fly out of Moscow on January 17, 1980, but that 7 days earlier they were called to OVIR to surrender their visas for “clarification” and were told they would receive them back “immediately.” They never did. The reason given to them, two months later, was that Vladimir’s father used to have a security clearance at his job prior to his retirement in either 1978 or 1979.