NEW YORK (Dec. 10)
Soviet emigration officials Wednesday told an unspecified number of Moscow Jewish refuseniks to reapply to emigrate even though their relatives have refused to sign waivers of financial obligation.
But it was unclear whether the waiver, known by refuseniks as the “poor relatives” clause, was officially rescinded.
New York City Councilman Noach Dear said it was. He informed the Jewish Telegraphic Agency Wednesday that a spokesperson in the office of Konstantin Kharchev, chairman of the Soviet Council of Religious Affairs, told him by telephone from Moscow that the requirement of a financial waiver from relatives was being abandoned.
He said the spokesperson related that the emigration office was calling refuseniks and telling them to reapply for visas. Dear estimated that up to 500 people could be affected.
The waiver, clause 24 of the codified rules, for emigration published in January, has been an integral part of the process of obtaining emigration visas, and its absence has prevented many refuseniks from receiving exit visas.
Relatives who do not wish their relatives to emigrate frequently refuse to sign the waiver even if financial obligations are not at issue.
However, a long-time Moscow refusenik told the Long Island Committee for Soviet Jewry that only members of a seminar group founded by Alia Zonis had been notified they may reapply, and that refuseniks were largely considering it a “delay tactic” at the time of the U.S.-Soviet summit meetings.
But Dear said refusenik Vladimir (Zeev) Dashevsky of Moscow, who is not part of Zonis’ group, said he received a phone call from the Moscow emigration office Wednesday morning telling him to reapply for a visa. Dashevsky added that some of his friends had also received similar calls, and that the news had been announced in the media.
He told his daughter, Irina Dashevsky Kara-Ivanov, a former refusenik living in Israel since May, by telephone Tuesday night that he would actually receive visas.
“I hope this is a good sign,” she said, “but I will believe it only when I see my father in Israel. . . We would like to believe that there are positive changes in the Soviet Union and that there is real glasnost and democracy.”