NEW YORK (Mar. 9)
The wife of a Prisoner of Conscience has been told that her husband will be released this week. According to Lynn Singer, executive director of the Long Island Committee for Soviet Jewry, Anya Lifshitz spoke this weekend with an official of the Procurator General’s Office in Moscow and was told that her husband, Vladimir, was to be sent home from Kamchatka labor camp this week.
Vladimir Lifshitz, a 44-year-old electrical engineer and mathematician, was arrested in January 1986 in his home town of Leningrad, and sentenced March 19 to three years in labor camp for "anti-Soviet slander." The charges were based on letters he wrote to the West describing his situation as a refusenik.
Anya Lifshitz told Singer by phone from Leningrad that Yuri Ovcharov, who works in the Procurator’s KGB department number 13 handling so-called KGB crime, said that her husband’s case has been reconsidered and a decision reached to free him. Anya is one of the refusenik wives who is currently on a hunger strike coordinated with International Women’s Day.
Lifshitz was division chief of economic forecasting at the All-Union Scientific Research Institute for the jewelry industry in Leningrad until 1981, when he had to resign because of his application to immigrate to Israel. After a period of unemployment, he worked installing industrial elevators until he hurt his back.
Lifshitz went on a hunger strike in 1983 to protest his treatment. Because of the publicity from the fast, he was able to work as a computer engineer. But his situation deteriorated when his son, Boris, applied to the Leningrad Institute of Fine Mechanics and Objects.
STATUS OF LIFSHITZ’S SON
Although Boris’ scientific accomplishments earned him initial favorable treatment in his application, he was ultimately rejected because of his father’s refusenik status. Vladimir appealed to Israel and the West for help for his son, and went on another hunger strike in 1985 to protest interception of his letters.
Last March, Boston University offered Boris admission. A group of Boston students and the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston raised $5,500 towards the younger Lifshitz’s education, and Boston University agreed to make up the difference necessary for a year’s tuition. However, Boris was inducted into the army immediately following his father’s sentencing.
Boris suffers from bleeding ulcers and had been hospitalized for the condition. Army doctors were told to ignore his condition and allow his induction, according to Singer. He is now in the army hospital because of a recurrence of the problem. His family has been concerned with his health, and treatment, and with the possibility that he would be placed in a unit later to be construed as having access to "state secrets."