Chernobilsky Receives Permission, Despite His ‘poor Relative’ Status

Former prisoner of conscience Boris Chernobilsky of Moscow has received permission to immigrate to Israel with his wife and three children, the National Conference on Soviet Jewry reported Thursday.

For 12 years, Soviet authorities blocked attempts by the Jewish activist and radio engineer to emigrate on grounds ranging from his supposed access to “state secrets” to his in-laws’ refusal to sign a required financial waiver, the so-called “poor relatives” clause.

The National Conference said this week that the Soviets should remove the “poor relatives” obstacles before it receives more favorable trade treatment from the United States. The issue was one of four contained this week in the conference’s conditional support of a waiver of the 14-year-old Jackson-Vanik Amendment.

The lifting of “unreasonable impediments” to emigration was also among the conditions contained in a resolution introduced in both houses of Congress Thursday supporting a presidential waiver of the Jackson-Vanik Amendment.

The resolution, introduced by Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Thomas Downey (D-N.Y.), states that Congress is prepared to support a waiver if President Bush receives assurances “that the Soviet government is firmly on a course toward sustained high levels of emigration” and plans to remove “all unreasonable impediments to or against persons wishing to emigrate.”

Chernobilsky was granted permission to emigrate last October, but it was rescinded late last year. In November, he was granted a temporary visitors visa to travel to Washington for a human rights conference in a delegation headed by Nobel laureate Andrei Sakharov.

Chernobilsky’s wife, Elena, is a Hebrew teacher and was one of the founders of Igud ha-Morim (Union of Hebrew and History Teachers.)

NEXT STORY