Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Soviet Family Given Exit Permission, but Must Leave Grandmother Behind

August 31, 1989
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

A family of long-term refuseniks just given permission to emigrate from the Soviet Union plans to depart for Israel as soon as possible, though it means leaving their oldest member behind.

Inna and Igor Uspensky and their son, Viacheslav, known as Slava, were informed orally and later in writing that they may leave as a family.

But their permission does not apply to Igor’s 77-year-old mother, Professor Irina Voronkevitch, a retired biologist who lacks a security clearance, the National Conference on Soviet Jewry reported here.

NCSJ, which reached Igor by telephone Tuesday, said Slava plans to leave as soon as possible to join his wife, Alla, who went to Israel last March for their child to be born there.

Igor and Inna plan to follow in December or January.

“We will continue to struggle from Israel for my mother’s permission,” Igor said, adding that he has written to Secretary of State James Baker, asking him to intervene.

Voronkevitch, a war widow whose father was killed in the Stalinist purges, has been told by the OVIR emigration bureau in Moscow that she must obtain documents from her former place of employment in order to receive security clearance.

The Uspenskys were originally refused an exit permit in March 1981. The reason given at that time was that Inna’s brother. Professor Alexander Ioffe, had access to state secrets.

Ioffe, a mathematician, was permitted to emigrate in January 1988. But when Slava applied independently of his parents, he was refused on grounds that his grandmother had been exposed to state secrets.

In a statement released Tuesday, Shoshana Cardin, NCSJ’s chairwoman, expressed her regrets “that in granting the Uspenskys written permission, the authorities demand that they emigrate as a family, leaving Professor Voronkevitch, whose father died in a Stalinist purge, and whose husband was killed in World War II, virtually alone in the Soviet Union.

“The authorities’ action once again underscores the capriciousness of Soviet emigration procedure and constitutes a clear violation of their obligations under the Helsinki process,” she said.

Recommended from JTA