WASHINGTON (Nov. 11)
Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev may bring along some Soviet Jews when he comes to Washington next month for his meeting with President Reagan, a Soviet Embassy official indicated Sunday.
The official, First Secretary Igor Khripunov, told this to Ina Lerman, education specialist for the Greater Washington Jewish Board of Education, and two students from a Maryland synagogue school.
Khripunov, in an interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, confirmed that he anticipates that Gorbachev will bring along someone “authoritative” on Soviet Jewry. He suggested it might be Samuel Zivs, a member of the Soviet Anti-Zionist Committee, who has long maintained that Jews face no persecution in the Soviet Union.
Lerman said that Khripunov also told her he expects Soviet Jewish emigration will continue to increase in the coming months. More than 6,000 Soviet Jews have been allowed to emigrate so far in 1987.
Lerman and the two students, Allison Gluckman and David Altschuler, both 11, were admitted to the embassy after they rang its doorbell. The youths, both from Congregation B’nai Shalom in Olney, Md., were among 300 from Washington area congregational schools who participated Sunday in a vigil for Soviet Jewry across from the embassy.
The three met with Khripunov for about 10 minutes, Lerman said, and he accepted a petition from the students urging the Soviets to permit Jews to emigrate.
This is one of the few times the embassy has allowed Jewish demonstrators inside. The gesture comes at a time when Soviet Jewry activists and national Jewish leaders are organizing a massive demonstration in Washington, timed to coincide with Gorbachev’s arrival on Dec. 6 for talks with Reagan the following day.
Thousands of Soviet Jewry supporters from cities across the country are expected to participate in the demonstration, which will feature appearances by such recently released well-known refuseniks as Ida Nudel, Vladimir and Maria Slepak, Yuli Edelshtein, Mikhail Kholmiansky and Natan Sharansky.