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5 Americans Ask Reagan's Help to Leave the Soviet Union

November 06, 1986|WILLIAM J. EATON | Times Staff Writer

MOSCOW — Five Americans caught in a battle with Soviet authorities over their dual U.S.-Soviet citizenship appealed to President Reagan on Wednesday to do more to get them out of the Soviet Union.

The five, all holders of U.S. passports, said the Reagan Administration should not "forget its hostages in Moscow" and should become more active in helping them find a way to leave a country in which they feel trapped.

In a hastily called press conference in a Moscow apartment, timed to coincide with the Vienna meeting on compliance with the 1975 Helsinki human rights accord, the five said their cases were no different than the U.S. Embassy hostages once held in Iran or the Americans still captive in Lebanon.

All U.S. Citizens

The five all hold U.S. passports by virtue of being born to American citizens but have spent most of their lives here. However, all either hold Soviet citizenship or did until it was revoked because of their efforts to emigrate. The Soviet Union does not recognize their U.S. citizenship and has refused all of them exit visas.

The U.S. government, they said, has done little to help, and a letter of appeal to Reagan has never been answered.

"I just can't take it here any longer," said Kim Lewis, 33, a biochemist whose father is an American living in New York City. "We are hostages. We consider ourselves hostages, and we ask the American government not to forget its hostages in Moscow."

Lewis was born in New York to an American father and a Soviet mother, but his parents divorced two years later and his mother returned with him to the Soviet Union in 1955. He was later formally adopted by his Soviet stepfather and assumed Soviet citizenship as well as U.S. citizenship. Lewis, in fact, voted in Tuesday's elections by absentee ballot.

A Plea for Help

Also appearing at the press conference were Andrei Efremov, 51, an artist whose American mother lives in Philadelphia; Janet Kotlayr, 42, whose American father lives in Brooklyn, N.Y.; Chicago-born Abe Stolar, 75, who came to the Soviet Union more than half a century ago but still has a Chicago accent, and his son Michael, 27.

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