Refusenik Plans Moscow Protest Demonstration on March 17
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Refusenik Plans Moscow Protest Demonstration on March 17

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A brave man, his wife and his son will demonstrate in front of the Lenin Library in Moscow on March 17 to protest the Soviet government’s refusal since 1979 to let the family emigrate to Israel.

At a time when many Soviet Jews are waiting to see whether Soviet leader Gorbachev’s “liberalization” program will extend to Jewish emigration, Mikhail (Mischa) Fuchs-Rabinovich, a 50-year-old meteorologist–dismissed from his job, stripped of his Ph.D and working as a boiler-watcher–has informed the Moscow municipality in writing of his intention to demonstrate, with due regard to the free flow of traffic.

For his meticulously legal enterprise, he expects the authorities to impose a 15-day prison sentence and hopes a harsher penalty does not await him: KGB operatives often beat Jewish demonstrators and jail them on trumped-up charges of anti-Soviet hooliganism.

The Soviets denied Fuchs-Rabinovich’s application to emigrate under the pretext that he was privy to “secrets” during his work as director of the Laboratory for Numerical Methods of Weather Forecasting. In fact, he never held a post requiring security clearance, the USSR has shared all his research with the 35 nations which signed the Helsinki Accords, and it is party to an international agreement declassifying all weather forecasting jobs.


Mischa and Marina Fuchs-Rabinovich went on a 30-day hunger strike in January after receiving an invitation from Temple Elohim in Wellesley, Mass. for young Mishka to celebrate his Bar Mitzvah with that Reform congregation. The first correspondence that the family had been permitted to receive from the West in four years was a copy of that invitation, relayed via the government. Rabbi Ronald Weiss of Temple Elohim has adopted the case for the Fuchs-Rabinovich to submit a new emigration application, he refused, convinced that their objective was to divert him from his hunger strike with the arduous, time-consuming application process. He had previously filed all necessary documents in prescribed form and nothing had changed in his application. The response of Soviet authorities was silence.

The Fuchs-Rabinovich case has not attracted the same international attention as more “famous” refuseniks such as Ida Nudel, Iosef Begun or Natan Sharansky. Weiss recently organized a committee to mobilize cables and letters to Gorbachev and to Soviet ambassador Yuri Dubinin in Washington in hopes that international attention may inhibit KGB reprisals against the family for its protest demonstration.

Mikhail Fuchs-Rabinovich previously urged Western visitors to concentrate on the principle of Soviet Jews’ right to emigrate to Israel rather than press for the release of specific refuseniks. Now, facing personal danger, the family requires as much support–and protection–as world opinion can muster.

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