NEW YORK (Sep. 13)
Five more long-term Jewish refuseniks and their families have received permission to emigrate from the Soviet Union and will soon go to Israel, the Long Island Committee for Soviet Jewry (LICSJ) reported Friday.
The five — Lev Elbert of Kiev; Lev Furman, Yosef Radomyslsky and Abba Taratuta, all of Leningrad; and Anna Lichterova of Moscow — were all first refused permission to emigrate more than 10 years ago.
Their permission follows the announcement last week that four other long-term refuseniks including Iosif Begun and Viktor Brailovsky also would be allowed to emigrate. In addition, it was reported last week that Australian Soviet Jewry activist Isi Leibler had accepted an official invitation to spend Rosh Hashanah in Moscow as a guest of the Jewish community center there.
He is believed to be the first non-rabbi involved in international Jewish affairs to receive a formal invitation from the USSR in the Gorbachev era.
More than 300 Jews who became refuseniks at least 10 years ago remain in the USSR, according to Lynn Singer, LICSJ executive director. She considered the latest releases as a bid “to get rid of the stars, to take the pressure off” before soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze’s upcoming talks with U.S. leaders.
Sen. Lawton Chiles (D. Fla.), who worked for the release of the Taratutas, felt the same way. He told the JTA Friday that “part of this is pre-summit, and there’s still another half million people there who want to get out.”
Chiles spoke with the Taratutas by phone last May 3 from a Florida synagogue and said he then induced the entire Florida Congressional delegation to write to Soviet leaders on behalf of the Taratutas and initiated phone calls to Soviet officials. He said he didn’t know if his efforts helped the Taratutas, and noted he would try to help other families seeking to emigrate.
He said the U.S. must continue to place human rights issues at the top of the agenda with the Soviets.