American Scientists Urge Soviet Authorities to Release Tarnopolsky
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American Scientists Urge Soviet Authorities to Release Tarnopolsky

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More than 150 participants at the 35th annual meeting of the American Association for Clinical Chemistry sent a petition to Soviet authorities appealing for the release of Dr. Yuri Tamopolsky, a 47-year-old chemist from Kharkov, it was reported by the Committee of Concerned Scientists, an independent organization of 4,000 American scientists dedicated to advancing human rights and scientific freedom of colleagues worldwide.

Tamopolsky was sentenced on June 30 to three years in a labor camp, the maximum penalty for “defaming the Soviet state.” The sentence capped the Soviet authorities’ longstanding campaign to silence the emigration activist in his eight-year quest for an exit visa, the Committee said.

Earlier retaliation against Tamopolsky included his dismissal in 1979 from his professorship at the Polytechnical Institute in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk. The author of more than 60 scientific papers, Tamopolsky has since then been prevented from working in his field.


Tamopolsky’s arrest was part of stepped-up harassment of Kharkov emigration activists, which began with the 1981 sentencing of acoustic physicist Alexander Paritsky to three years in a labor camp. Paritsky, along with Tamopolsky and other Kharkov activists, had established an unofficial university for Jewish students denied admittance to institutions or higher learning because of anti-Semitic discrimination, the Committee said.

Official opposition to the university resulted only in the arrest of these two leaders, but also in its forced closing. In an extension of these harassments, remaining Kharkov activists have been subjected to apartment searches, police detentions and interrogrations, and threats of criminal prosecution.

The petition, spearheaded by Marvin Feil, an American research and development chemist long active in support of human rights, took note of Tamopolsky’s ill health and asked Soviet leader Yuri Andropov for “a favorable ruling on his (Tamopolsky’s) appeal … considering the privations he has already endured, and the aggravating effect of his internment on his diabetic condition.”

The clinical chemists, who met in New York July 24-29, stated further in their petition that such action, followed by permission for Tamopolsky to emigrate, enabling him to “resume his scientific career in an atmosphere of freedom,” would “elicit the appreciation of countless American chemists and help pave the way for improved scientific relations between our two countries.”

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