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Bravve Family Leaves the Soviet Union

Soviet cancer patient and long-time refusenik Rimma Bravve left the Soviet Union Thursday after seven years of waiting and two years of suffering from ovarian cancer. She and her husband Vladimir flew to Vienna, where they were met by her mother, Khanna Anbinder, and sister, Larisa Shapiro, both of whom are Soviet emigres and live in Rochester, NY. Shapiro hadn’t seen her sister in 10 years; their mother last saw Rimma six years ago.

Also at the airport was Sen. Alfonse d’Amato (R. NY), who flew to Vienna this past weekend as chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe. The Commission took testimony from non-governmental organizations in preparation for the Helsinki Final Act follow-up talks which are currently being held in Vienna.

D’Amato has been personally involved in the Bravve case, as well as that of other Soviet cancer patients who are trying to emigrate. He has maintained regular, personal phone contact with the cancer patients’ families and has spoken several times to the Soviet delegation to the Helsinki talks regarding these patients.

He will be accompanying the Bravves to the United States Friday, and will hold a press conference at JFK Airport in New York upon their arrival.

The Bravves had visas and airplane tickets in January 1980. But they were told to return their visas “for clarification” a week before they were to leave, and they did not receive them back.

A month ago, the Soviet Ambassador to the Helsinki talks, Viktor Kashlev, made a public speech in which he said that the Bravves had received their visas the day before. The Bravves, however, knew nothing of this and Vladimir Bravve was sent home several times from the OVIR emigration office in their native Moscow. They received written permission to leave last Friday, and the actual visas were put into their hands Tuesday. This time, said Shapiro, the Soviets were eager to get them out as soon as possible and waived half the paperwork requirements.

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