NEW YORK (Sep. 24)
Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze reportedly has told U.S. Secretary of State James Baker that three-quarters of those on a list of more than 500 longtime refuseniks will receive permission to leave “within a short frame of time.”
The news was reported Sunday by Elan Steinberg, executive director of the World Jewish Congress, who spoke with both Soviet and American participants to the talks that took place this weekend in Jackson Hole, Wyo.
Officials of major Soviet Jewry organizations could not immediately confirm the report.
Some of those on the list are seeking only permission to travel abroad, rather than emigrate, Steinberg said. All those affected are Jews.
The names of the refuseniks, many of whom have been denied exit permits because of their alleged knowledge of “state secrets,” appear on a list compiled by the State Department from information provided by several groups, including the National Conference on Soviet Jewry, the Union of Councils for Soviet Jews and officials at the American Embassy in Moscow.
The list was given to Soviet authorities over the past two weeks as part of the preparatory activity for the talks between Shevardnadze and Baker.
Shevardnadze acknowledged the list during the talks and informed Baker that three-fourths would be receiving permission to leave soon. The remaining one-quarter of those on the list will have to be evaluated, Steinberg said.
In Leningrad, meanwhile, six Soviet Jews were arrested Friday in front of the Lenin Library during a demonstration by two dozen refuseniks seeking exit visas, the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry reported.
The protest was timed to coincide with the Baker-Shevardnadze meetings.