Begun Placed Under House Arrest, but Plans to Leave Soon for Israel

Long-time refusenik Iosif Begun was among at least a score of Jewish activists who were placed under house arrest and had their telephones disconnected for several hours Sunday. Reports from Moscow said the house arrests would be “for at least one day.”

But Begun contacted the Israel Defense Force radio by phone Monday morning. He said his telephone was reconnected Sunday evening but did not say whether he was still under house arrest.

These developments occurred some hours after Begun spoke to the newspaper Maariv by telephone Sunday to report that his son. Boris, with his wife and children, have been promised exit visas by the Soviet authorities. He said the entire family will be coming to Israel soon.

Begun had been among a group of at least 20 activists who planned to protest outside the Soviet Foreign Ministry’s press center in Moscow against the recent increase in officially condoned anti-Semitism in the USSR.

The KGB learned of the plans and its agents swooped down on the activists’ homes. The activists had requested permission for a demonstration several weeks ago, but were turned down and canceled their plans at that time.

Begun himself was granted an exit visa a few months ago, but refused to leave without the rest of his family. This gave rise to reports that he intended to remain in the Soviet Union to work for the right of Jews to practice their religion and culture without hindrance or harassment.

But Begun denied the reports. His son, Boris, was refused a visa because his in-laws would not sign a document consenting to their daughter’s departure from the country. They have still not signed it.

But, according to Begun, Boris was summoned to OVIR, the Soviet emigration office, over the weekend and told that he and his family would get visas. Begun told Maariv he had no idea why the authorities decided now to allow his son to leave.

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