Ailing Refusenik Benjamin Charny Flown to Boston on Hammer’s Jet
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Ailing Refusenik Benjamin Charny Flown to Boston on Hammer’s Jet

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Nine-year refusenik Benjamin Charny of Moscow, who is ailing with cancer, arrived in Boston on Saturday morning aboard a jet owned by industrialist Armand Hammer.

There he was reunited with his brother, Leon, and his daughter, Anna Blank, as an entourage of political personalities looked on at Boston’s Logan Airport.

The plane touched down at 11 a.m. in front of a small podium set up for a news conference. Waiting to greet Charny and his wife, Yadwiga, were Kitty Dukakis and Sens. Edward Kennedy and John Kerry, both Massachusetts Democrats.

Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis, who is expected to win the Democratic nomination for president this week, had hoped to attend, but was unable to because of his work on the state budget, Leon Charny said in a telephone interview. The Dukakises had sent letters to Soviet authorities about Charny and spoke often of his case.

Hammer, who received permission to airlift Charny and his wife from Moscow, became involved two years ago in the case of Charny, now 50, who suffers from skin cancer, other tumors, frequent heart failure and hypertension.


The New England Medical Center in Boston has long promised free treatment for Charny, and will begin to evaluate him for treatment Monday morning.

Two physicians, Dr. Mark Estes, a cardiologist, and Dr. Robert Schwartz, the hospital’s chief oncologist, stand ready to treat him, according to Leon Charny.

Blank spoke to Hammer about her father in May, and the industrialist, whose friendship with Soviet authorities dates back to Lenin, delivered to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev personal letters from himself, several senators and Gov. Dukakis.

Benjamin Charny, appearing serene, expressed his thanks to a long list of people, including Hammer, President Reagan, Secretary of State George Shultz, Assistant Secretary of State Richard Schifter, Dukakis, the two senators and all other members of Congress and the Reagan administration for their personal involvement in his case.

Charny met with Shultz in Moscow prior to the summit conference and spoke personally with Reagan when the president met with refuseniks in June, over Soviet protests.

Charny received his emigration visa last Monday, after being informed June 21 that he was no longer considered to be in possession of state secrets, a grounds for refusal.

He had been told his work in applied mathematics was a state secret, though his mathematical analyses have been published abroad.


Leon Charny laughed when asked how he felt. “I think it’s a feeling like you just gave birth. Such a relief.”

Blank said she found it “a little difficult to talk about it, because I am so overwhelmed. I am, of course, happy.” She emigrated last year with her husband, Yuri Blank, and infant daughter, Sima, after long agonizing about leaving her ailing father. She decided her voice would be better heard in the United States.

Charny is the last of an original group of five refuseniks in the International Cancer Patients Solidarity Committee, formed two years ago by Montreal research oncologist Gerald Batist.

Only one other member of that original group, Tanya Bogomolny, is still living. Three others — Rimma Bravve, Inna Meiman and Leah Maryasina — who eventually were allowed to emigrate, died in the United States and Canada from advanced cases of cancer.

Sunday was the unveiling of a monument on the Rochester, N.Y., grave of Bravve, who died in June 1987 at the age of 32, after a two-year effort to emigrate. She emigrated in December 1986, suffering from advanced ovarian cancer.

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