GENEVA (Mar. 9)
A number of prominent refuseniks will be permitted to leave the Soviet Union in “a matter of weeks,” at least according to the head of the Moscow OVIR emigration bureau.
Rudolf Kuznetsov, who is attending the annual conference of the United Nations Human Rights Commission here, made the statement during a conversation with David Litman, a Geneva-based Jew who claims to be a representative of the World Union for Progressive Judaism. Litman presented Kuznetsov with a list of 155 refuseniks, among whom are several who have been waiting to emigrate many years.
(In New York, Martin Strelzer, North American director of the World Union, said Litman’s status with the organization is “being held in abeyance.” The World Union did not know of the origin of the list and did not have a copy of it.)
Among the names on the list of refusenik families were Kim Fridman of Kiev, a former prisoner of Zion, whose wife now lives in Israel; Tanya and Yuri Zieman of Moscow, whose daughter Galina lives in the Boston area; Yuli Kosharovsky, who is scheduled to begin a 17-day hunger strike Thursday, the 17th anniversary of his first refusal; and Abe Stolar, the Chicago-born Moscow resident whose Communist parents took him to the Soviet Union when he was a boy and who has been trying to leave for many years.
Kuznetsov, who reportedly had two conversations with Litman, looked over the list for a long time and then said, “In a short while you will not need to worry about all these people. We are going to let them emigrate to Israel.”
When Litman pressed Kuznetsov for what he meant precisely, Kuznetsov said it would be “a matter of weeks.”
GOOD WILL GESTURE
American diplomats attending the conference said they believed the Soviet Union will make a gesture of good will prior to the anticipated summit meeting in May between President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, and that Kuznetsov’s statement might be based on this.
In New York, Lynn Singer, executive director of the Long Island Committee for Soviet Jewry, said she was unaware of the meeting in Geneva and did not know about the list.
Singer said that four Jews were arrested Wednesday after a two-minute demonstration for emigration. Three men Joseph Lativsky, Sergei Kochecot and Sergei Labuzov were ordered to serve immediate prison sentences of 10 days. Olga Lativsky, arrested with her husband, was fined four rubles.
(New York correspondent Susan Birnbaum contributed to this story.)