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American-born Refusenik Abe Stolar Will Emigrate, After 13-year Wait

Abe Stolar of Moscow, formerly of Chicago, got a New Year’s gift that was long in the works.

Last Monday, Stolar, a refusenik for 13 years, was told by telephone that he and his entire family had received permission to emigrate.

But Stolar, born in Chicago 77 years ago, is not planning to return to live in the city he knew so well as a boy. Instead, he will be going to Israel.

Stolar, speaking in the broad Chicago accent he never lost, told ABC-TV’s “Good Morning America” on Monday that he definitely intends to repatriate to Israel. He intends to visit his American hometown.

Stolar’s Russian-born wife, Gita, has brothers in Israel, his friend, Dr. Bernard Lampert, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Lampert, is another American-born Jew who was taken as a boy to live in Russia. He now lives in Brooklyn.

Stolar has not yet received written notice, but was told by phone he would be receiving papers and additional instructions at the end of the month.

Stolar’s parents, devoted Communists in Chicago, went to live in the Soviet Union for ideological reasons in 1931, when Abe was 19 years old. He became a Soviet citizen.

Stolar remained for years a strong Communist despite his family’s sufferings, which included his father’s arrest in 1937, during Stalin’s purges, and subsequent death in a labor camp, and the arrest and death in labor camp of Abe’s brother-in-law. His mother died in 1949.

Stolar’s sister, Eva, was also sent to a labor camp, following World War II, for five years.

Eva immigrated to Israel in the early 1970s and lived there for some years, during which time Stolar shipped his belongings to her. Eva finally returned to the United States to live in Los Angeles. She died there in 1978.

In May 1975, Stolar received exit visas for himself, his wife and son. After planning joyously to leave, the entire family was forcibly removed from their plane in Moscow. In June 1975, their visas were revoked.

MET WITH REAGAN

Lampert mused that the reason might have been to make an example of Stolar. The reason the Soviets gave for this stunning blow was that Gita had worked in a laboratory whose work was “sensitive.” Now 70, she was a chemical engineer until her retirement in 1972. Her parents died in the Minsk Jewish ghetto during World War II.

Abe worked as an English translator and editor for Radio Moscow. He was dismissed from his job in 1949 during anti-Jewish purges. But after Stalin’s death, he was reinstated as a translator at the official Tass news agency.

Stolar eventually received permission to emigrate, but his son’s mother-in-law refused to sign a waiver of obligations allowing her daughter to leave, She finally consented last week.

Stolar is crediting President Reagan now for his ability to emigrate. He met with Reagan during the Moscow summit in May. Reagan told Stolar he had discussed his case with Gorbachev.

Stolar voted in American presidential elections, casting his vote at the American Embassy in Moscow.

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