WASHINGTON — A cancer patient and her husband who have been trying to leave the Soviet Union for years have finally been granted visas to leave the country and will soon be coming to the United States, Sen. Pete Wilson (R-Calif.) said today.
Wilson said in an interview that he did not know if the Soviet decision to release the pair was related to the Soviet release of American journalist Nicholas Daniloff.
"I would say the timing is interesting, to say the least," Wilson said. "We've asked the State Department, but we haven't heard anything to confirm or deny that it's part of a deal related to Daniloff."
The Soviets will permit Benjamin and Tanya Bogomolny to leave "within a couple of weeks," Wilson said. They will fly to Vienna and eventually to San Francisco where their relatives live, he said.
Benjamin Bogomolny first applied for a visa in 1966. His wife suffers from breast cancer and wants to come to the United States for treatment, Wilson said.
Tanya Bogomolny's sister, Natasha Sverbobiva, and her father, Ilya Heifets, live in San Francisco, and another family member, Leonid Charney, lives in the Boston area, Wilson press secretary Bill Livingston said.
Charney contacted Wilson's office late this morning to say the Bogomolnys were being released, Wilson said. The couple were called last Friday by Soviet officials and told to report to a Moscow office today to pick up the necessary papers so they could emigrate, he said.
"What we've been praying to happen has finally happened," Wilson said.
"There are several other cancer patients who want to leave the Soviet Union," he said. "To my knowledge, the Bogomolnys are the only ones who have been permitted to emigrate. I can only surmise that they may be allowing these \o7 refuseniks \f7 to trickle out and are holding the others back to use at some other time."