Demonstrations in Soviet Union
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Demonstrations in Soviet Union

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Two hundred Soviet Jews gathered April 26 in the Jewish section of the Moscow cemetery for services commemorating Yom Hashoah, according to the National Council for Soviet Jewry (NCSJ). The gathering was led by former Prisoner of Conscience Iosif Begun.

There was also a demonstration of 30 people in front of the offices of TASS, the Soviet news agency, asking for the right to go to Israel, the NCSJ said.

It was also announced that Soviet prisoner and refusenik Aleksei Magaryk’s three-year sentence for alleged drug possession was reduced by half and he will be released in September, Magaryk’s wife, Natasha Ratner Magaryk, told the NCSJ.

Nevertheless, according to the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry, Magaryk’s father, Dr. Vladimir Magaryk, is so concerned about his son’s current state of health in a labor camp that he is coming to the U.S. to lobby on his behalf next week. Aleksei Magaryk was reportedly severely beaten in camp.


In addition, Prisoner of Conscience Yuli Edelshtein is scheduled to be released Tuesday from a labor camp, according to Jewish activists in Moscow, the Long Island Committee for Soviet Jewry and the SSSJ reported.

Edelshtein was arrested in September 1984 and sentenced in December 1984 to three years, which includes the time served from the day of arrest, according to Soviet law. He is being released four months early. He was also sentenced for alleged drug possession.

But bad news was received on Wednesday from the New England Medical Center with the report that severely ailing refusenik Benjamin Charny of Moscow has been refused a visa once again. Charny, 49, a cancer patient suffering from acute coronary disease and dangerously high blood pressure, has been trying since 1979 to leave the Soviet Union to join his brother, Leon, in Needham. Mass. On Wednesday, Benjamin Charny was told not only that he was refused, but that he should not reapply until 1995.

Leon, a candidate for a Ph.D. at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has been lobbying in Congress and through as many channels as possible for his brother’s emigration. Last month, Leon Charny staged a solitary vigil in front of the Soviet Embassy in Moscow.

In early April, he gave testimony on Soviet cancer patients before a hearing of the House Subcommittee on Health at which scientists from the National Institutes of Health and National Cancer Institute discussed an agreement on cancer research between the U.S. and the USSR, which was initiated in 1972, and the issue of divided cancer patient families.

Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) initiated a letter to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev asking that Benjamin Charny be permitted to emigrate. The letter was signed by the entire U.S. Senate, a move Leon Charny believes is “unprecedented.” Nevertheless, his brother’s emigration outlook appears even more distressing. He believes his brother’s life expectancy is extremely short.

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