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Lurie Family, Longtime Refuseniks, Gets Soviet Permission to Emigrate

November 9, 1989
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Leading Moscow Jewish activists Judith and Emmanuel Lurie, refuseniks for nearly 10 years, have received permission to emigrate, according to the National Conference on Soviet Jewry, the Long Island Committee for Soviet Jewry and B’nai B’rith International.

Judith Lurie, formerly an English teacher, is head of Jewish Women Against Refusal, or JEWAR, a solidarity group of Soviet Jewish women denied permission to emigrate that has staged demonstrations and hunger strikes.

Her husband is a research chemist who was relegated to agricultural work following the family’s first refusal for permission to leave in 1980.

The Luries were actually granted permission to immigrate to Israel in December 1979 and were scheduled to leave the Soviet Union two months later.

But the permit was rescinded in February 1980, when authorities of the OVIR emigration bureau decided that Emmanuel’s involvement in allegedly classified research 17 years earlier was a security risk.

Eventually, Judith’s mother, Rika Kolbak, and later their elder daughter, Anna Lurie Shvartzman, were permitted to leave. The Luries, however, were continuously refused, their latest denial coming May 17.

In June, Judith and her younger daughter, Bella, 13, were allowed to travel to Israel, Great Britain and the United States on visitors visas.

Bella remained in Israel, while her mother continued to Britain and the United States for a week. They visited Washington in July for meetings with State Department officials and members of Congress, under the joint auspices of the Union of Councils for Soviet Jews, the National Conference and B’nai B’rith.


B’nai B’rith President Seymour Reich noted that Soviet authorities had based their longstanding refusal of exit visas to the Luries on Emmanuel’s access to state secrets more than 20 years ago.

He voiced hope “that this is an indication that the Soviet bureaucracy is implementing President (Mikhail) Gorbachev’s guidelines of a five-year limit to using access to classified information as grounds for denying an exit visa.”

National Conference Chairwoman Shoshana Cardin also welcomed the permission.

Meanwhile, the Long Island Committee reported a new refusenik, at a time when it is being said that no one is being refused permission to leave.

Valery Zelichonok, brother of former prisoner of Zion Roald (Alec) Zelichonok, was refused permission to emigrate in July, on the basis of “state secrets,” Lynn Singer, executive director of the Long Island Committee, reported.

Valery Zelichonok, who is 45, applied to emigrate in April.

A resident of Krasnoyarsk, in Soviet Asia, Zelichonok was a Soviet swimming champion and low-ranking naval officer serving on non-nuclear submarines. He was dismissed after the Six-Day War of June 1967 and was assigned to a job with shore duty, the Long Island Committee reported.

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