YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Daniloff Not Only One Trapped in Soviet Union

September 27, 1986

As Conrad so accurately depicts Mikhail Gorbachev in his cartoon (Sept. 4), a congenial smile and a Western-style suit do not a Western man make. It is not only reporter Nicholas Daniloff who is trapped in the Soviet Union but also all minority groups and dissenters.

Robert Hunter speaks correctly and precisely when he says (Editorial Pages, Sept. 10): "The Soviet Union does brutalize its people and has no respect for basic political rights . . . "

President Reagan's simplistic view of the Soviet Union and confusion about issues of basic human rights indeed places our government at a disadvantage.

The 2 to 3 million Jews in the Soviet Union have been struggling to resuscitate a history, culture and religious identity that was all but obliterated during the last 70 years of Soviet hegemony.

Between 1970 and 1979 more than 265,000 Jews were allowed to emigrate to Israel and other Western nations. There remain 400,000 in refusal today. These refusenik Jews are pariahs in the land of their birth but are not allowed the freedom to emigrate to countries where they would find refuge.

During my extended trip to the Soviet Union I met former inmates of the notorious labor camp/prison system and wives whose husbands are currently incarcerated in labor camps on the trumped-up charge of dealing in narcotics. The children of Anna and Vladimir Lifshitz, for example, have not seen their parents for more than 10 years.

Some of those who have appealed for years and years to be reunited with their families abroad have reached the point of desperation. Iosef Irlin MD, a world famous cancer researcher in tumor virology and tumor immunology began a hunger strike on Aug. 14. All his other methods have failed and he feels this is the sole effective means of protest left to him.

In spite of letters and open letters addressed to General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev at the Kremlin and the Soviet Embassy in Washington, there has been no response.

Hunter discusses linkage regarding arms control. Let us also apply the concept of linkage to medical and scientific research and development. If the Soviets want access to recent developments in medicine, let them pay the price. That "price" must be the release of Dr. Iosef Irlin and his wife, Sveta, a microbiologist, and the thousands of other refusenik physicians and scientists who share their fate.

Dr. Irlin pleads their cause eloquently: "Don't become a silent accomplice of the injustice; don't let evil take the upper hand; raise your voice for us."


San Diego

Los Angeles Times Articles