NEW YORK (Jan. 7)
A 10-year Moscow refusenik is beginning a hunger strike of indefinite duration to try to persuade the appropriate authorities to grant an exit visa to his son. Alexander Ioffe, 48, who is a mathematician, announced he would begin his strike Thursday according to Lynn Singer, executive director of the Long Island Committee for Soviet jewry.
Ioffe’s son Dimitry, 23, who is married and the parent of a baby girl, has been refused permission to emigrate to Israel because of “absence of reasons for family reunification.” His family is still in the Soviet Union. They are also refuseniks.
Ioffe himself wants to emigrate to Israel but he is staging his hunger strike not on his own behalf but that of his son’s because the Soviet authorities are using his presence in the country as a reason for denying Dimitry a visa.
“Yes, it is my dream to go to Israel, but, even more, it is the most important thing that my son be able to live his life as a Jew in his homeland with his family,” Singer said Ioffe wrote in a letter on the eve of his hunger strike.
Dimitry and his wife, Tanya, and their one-year-old baby, Ilana, applied for an exit visa in 1985. In 1976, Dimitry, his father, his mother, Rosa, his sister, Anna, applied as a group to emigrate to Israel. They were turned down on the ground that Alexander Ioffe had access to “state secrets” at his job at the Moscow Institute of Automobile and Road Building. That has been the basis for refusing exit visas since then.
Alexander, who had been an associate professor of applied mathematics from 1972 through 1976, was demoted to the position of a researcher as soon as he applied for a visa. In his letter, Alexander said he was being harassed on his job by the institute’s administration and a formal procedure has been started “that may eventually result in my dismissal.”