Ovir Official Says USSR is Easing Family Reunification Process

The head of the Moscow OVIR emigration office said that the Soviet government is acting in accordance with its “international obligations” to ease family reunification procedures for emigration, and that Soviet Jews with relatives in the West will be permitted to join them without obtaining an invitation from relatives in Israel, according to the National Conference on Soviet Jewry (NCSJ).

Rudolf Kuznetsov told the weekly Soviet journal Novoye Vrema that “in keeping with the Constitution and the international obligations of the USSR, the letter and spirit of the documents of the Committee on Security and Cooperation in Europe, and also of last year’s conference in Bern, the Soviet government is making human contacts and issues of reunification of families easier.”

BYPASSING CURRENT REQUIREMENTS

In effect, according to Kuznetsov, Soviet Jews with relatives living in the West will be allowed to join them, thus bypassing the current requirement that an invitation must be obtained from Israel. He said that former Soviet Jews residing in countries that have diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union can invite their relatives to join them.

Kuznetsov also said that it will be possible for trips to be made to and from the Soviet Union, “for meetings not only with close relatives but also with other relations and even with friends.”

The publication’s interviewer, Lev Yelin, asked if a former Soviet Jewish national could invite a Soviet Jewish relative for permanent residence in the West, to which Kuznetsov replied “Yes, he can.” However, Kuznetsov subsequently took a swipe at Soviet emigres who applied to go to Israel and then went to other countries instead. “Those people assured us that all they ever wanted was to live in that country (Israel) and nowhere else — but in fact they never even put one foot on Israeli soil … But that is their business,” said Kuznetsov.

Meanwhile, hopes that cellist and Hebrew teacher Aleksei Magaryk might win early release from this three-year sentence in labor camp were dashed on Aug 5 when his wife, Natalya Ratner, telephoned the camp in Omsk where her husband is imprisoned, and was told that he would have to serve his full sentence. Last April, his term was cut in half, and he is due for release sometime in September.

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