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Gorbachev to Free Jews, Says Hammer

Mikhail Gorbachev will eventually let every refusenik leave the Soviet Union, according to Armand Hammer, a personal friend of the Soviet leader.

“Even more than that, every Jew who wants to leave the Soviet Union will be allowed to do so. That is what Mr. Gorbachev told me and I believe him,” Hammer said in an interview Thursday with Patricia Golan of the Arizona Post, the Jewish weekly published here.

The 90-year-old industrialist, the first American to develop commercial contacts with Soviet Russia in the early 1920s, was in Tucson for a meeting of the President’s Cancer Panel, a blue-ribbon group that advises the government on the latest developments in cancer research.

Hammer, who has known every Soviet leader since Lenin, said he has faith in Gorbachev. “I believe him. I think he is a man of his word, and he certainly should be tested on this. We should give him a chance.”

He added, “Gorbachev might make conditions so pleasant in Russia, some of those Jews might not want to leave.”

Hammer, known in international business circles as the “Russian Connection,” helped organize American assistance after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986.

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