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Slepaks, on 13th Day of Hunger Strike in Moscow, Say They Are Achieving Their Purpose

Vladimir Slepak and his wife, Maria (Masha), were in the 13th day of their 17-day hunger strike in Moscow Wednesday–one day for every year they have been denied exit visas. Slepak told Israel Radio in a telephone interview that they are achieving their purpose to focus world attention on the plight of refuseniks.

They are not being harassed, he said, but they have been forced to move further and further away from the Supreme Soviet building where they have been holding a half-hour vigil each day.

Tractors driven on the sidewalk edged them away from the spot. “They told us to move further away, to the corner, two buildings away,” Slepak said. “But there we had no obstacles. We stood with our slogans.” He said on Tuesday “there were many correspondents and television cameramen and there were also many of our refusenik friends. Today (Wednesday) there were fewer people, apart from the refuseniks supporting us.” He said he and his wife would end their hunger strike on April 12, the eve of Passover, “because the next day will be the seder.”

Slepak, who has been denied an exit permit on grounds that he was once privy to state secrets, said, “I may be going to the U.S. Embassy for the seder with (U.S. Secretary of State George) Shultz. I was told I may be invited to the American Embassy (for the seder). I was told Shultz wants to come and sit at the seder table.”

In Washington, where the Slepaks’ son Alexander is also on a 17-day hunger strike on Capitol Hill, it was confirmed Tuesday that Slepak is one of the refuseniks invited to the seder at the Embassy and that Shultz, who will be in Moscow at the time, will attend.

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