NEW YORK (Nov. 4)
Aba and Ida Taratuta, at 14 years Leningrad’s reportedly longest-awaiting refuseniks, received permission to immigrate to Israel Thursday. And Lev Elbert, a former prisoner of conscience from Kiev who staged a 45-day hunger strike earlier this year, arrived in Vienna with his family Thursday.
Both developments were reported by Lynn Singer, executive director of the Long Island Committee for Soviet Jewry. The news about the Taratutas was also announced by the National Conference on Soviet Jewry.
The Taratutas, both born in August 1930, first applied to emigrate in May 1973, and were refused that August for reasons of “secrecy.” Both had to give up their jobs: Aba’s in applied mathematics, Ida’s as a translator of scientific material at the Leningrad Pedagogical Institute.
According to Singer, Aba became the “support system and one of the leading exponents of aliyah in Leningrad, known throughout the repatriation movement.” In 1977, militiamen interrupted his unofficial math seminar for Jews and demanded to see the participants’ identification.
The couple’s son, Mikhail (Misha), a talented artist, was denied entrance to a Leningrad university in 1979, despite an exemplary academic record at the secondary school level. But in August of this year, he was allowed to immigrate to Israel. Last month, he visited the United States to work on his parents’ behalf.
The National Conference hailed news of the Taratutas’ impending freedom. Noting that Aba was “vilified in the Soviet press as a ‘Zionist conspirator’ because he and his wife sought to immigrate to Israel,” the organization said, “We hope that many others will soon be given permission to emigrate.”
Lev Elbert and his family, who have waited 11 years to emigrate, are expected to arrive in Israel on Sunday, according to Singer.
HUNGER STRIKE IN MOSCOW
Elbert and his wife, Chana, staged a 45-day hunger strike in Moscow earlier this year to the great concern of Soviet Jewry activists, refuseniks and many members of Congress who visited them. Their son, Carmi, joined in the public fast for several days, but was dissuaded from continuing by friends both in the Soviet Union and the West.
They are joined in their exit by Lev’s brother, Mikhail. Their father, Chaim, died of a heart attack exactly one year ago after hearing that his son had again been refused a visa because he purportedly had a “secret family.”
The Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry said, “It’s a terrible tragedy that the Soviets delayed and delayed so that Chaim had to die in Russia, instead of living in Israel.”
Singer also reported that Viktor Fulmakht, a six-year refusenik, received permission to emigrate despite a “final refusal” in December 1982, on the grounds of “secrecy,” along with his wife, Maya.
However, their decision to leave is colored by another recent refusal for their daughter, Miriam, who was turned down along with her husband, Misha Bialy, and their infant son.
There are now three generations of Bialys in refusal–Misha, his son and his parents, Leonid and Judith. Judith Ratner Bialy’s ailing 82-year-old mother, Ktziya Ratner, a Soviet emigre living in Rehovot, Israel, has traveled extensively as a representative of the Mothers for Freedom.
This week also saw more refusals for long-term refuseniks Benjamin Charny of Moscow, who suffers from cancer and heart disease, and whose daughter, Anna Blank, and brother, Leon, live in Needham, Mass., Mark Terlitsky, also of Moscow, whose brother, Leonard, now living in New York, visited him and their ailing mother in September and chased down all reported authorities to ask for permission for his family.
These were cases supposedly being reviewed by the new Soviet re-examination committee.
On Nov. 2, 62 refuseniks sent a telegram to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and to Andrei Gromyko, Communist Presidium chairman and former foreign minister.
The group’s members stressed that they had been waiting six months for answers to their latest emigration requests and that emigration authorities had reneged on one official’s promise to respond to the requests by Oct. 30.