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Begin: Dobrynin to Look into Whereabouts of Mendelevich

February 18, 1981
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Anatoly Dobrynin, the Soviet Ambassador in Washington, has promised to make inquiries into the whereabouts of Iosif Mendelevich whose apparent disappearance from a prison labor camp in the Soviet Union has caused anxiety among his relatives here.

This was disclosed by Premier Menachem Begin to Mendelevich’s sister, Rivka Dori of Gush Etzion, who met with Begin yesterday. He told her the Russian diplomat offered his assistance last weekend.

Earlier, Dori and her mother took part in a rally outside the Finnish Embassy in Tel Aviv which represents Soviet interest in Israel, to protest the lack of information about Mendelevich. He is the last of the 1970 Leningrad hijack trial defendants still incarcerated in the Soviet Union. About a year ago he was moved to the Perm 36 labor camp in the Urals where he was reportedly mistreated because of his religious practices and denied visitors and mail. He went on a hunger strike last November.

Recently, his sister received word from friends in Moscow that their inquiries about Mendelevich’s condition brought a reply from the labor camp commander that he was no longer there. The lack of information as to his whereabouts has given rise to fear that he may be seriously ill or have died. The Cabinet decided last Sunday that Israel would mount a worldwide public opinion campaign to find out where Mendelevich is, and secure his release.

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