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Pre-Summit Gift: Visas for 26 Refuseniks

December 04, 1987|NORMAN KEMPSTER | Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — In what some U.S. officials called a pre-summit "gift list," the Soviet Union agreed Thursday to permit at least 26 longtime refuseniks--including the husband of one American citizen and the fiance of another--to emigrate to the United States, Israel or other countries.

Soviet officials informed the U.S. Embassy in Moscow that 23 Jewish refuseniks, a Lithuanian-American and the two "divided spouses" will soon be granted exit visas.

The U.S. government repeatedly has urged Moscow to permit the emigration of the 26 and hundreds of others who have been refused permission to leave.

Moscow traditionally releases a few dissidents on the eve of summit meetings and other important international conferences, apparently to ease criticism of its human rights record.

Word of the latest releases came shortly after Natan Sharansky, possibly the best-known former refusenik, had urged the West to remember how many Soviet citizens are still denied permission to emigrate.

"Gorbachev sends one message to the West and another message inside the Soviet Union," Sharansky told a rally at American University in Washington. He urged students to attend a massive demonstration on behalf of Soviet Jewry on Sunday, the day before Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev is scheduled to arrive in the United States.

Sharansky said that Gorbachev has received far more credit for letting 700 to 900 Soviet Jews emigrate each month this year than former Soviet leader Leonid I. Brezhnev received for allowing 51,000 to emigrate in 1979.

The Soviet agreement to permit the emigration of Viktor Faermark, husband of Andria Wine of Cranbury, N.J., and Viktor Navikov, fiance of Elizabeth Condon of Lynn, Mass., reduces to seven the number of Soviet citizens either married to or engaged to Americans who have been denied permission to leave.

As recently as August, there were 18 such cases.

Word that Faermark and Navikov would be allowed to leave came as Wine, Condon and three other "divided spouses" were speaking at a Washington press conference intended to call attention to their plight.

The Soviets also announced that Povilas Peciulaitis, who holds both Soviet and American citizenship, would be allowed to return to the United States after being held in the Soviet Union against his will for more than 40 years, 22 years of that time in Siberian exile.

Rep. Edward F. Feighan (D-Ohio), who championed Peciulaitis' cause, said that Peciulaitis was born in Lithuania, now controlled by the Soviet Union, in the early 1920s of parents who were American citizens. The family left Lithuania, but Peciulaitis returned there to visit sick relatives in 1939 and was caught by the outbreak of World War II.

Feighan said that Peciulaitis formally applied to return to the United States in 1974.

The list of Jewish refuseniks includes Leonid Bialy, his wife, Judith Ratner, their two sons, daughter-in-law and grandson. Ratner is the sister of Marina Ratner of Albany, Calif. The family has been seeking permission to emigrate for more than a decade.

Other Jewish families given permission to emigrate include:

-- Alexander Kholmiansky, his wife and baby, who were promised visas earlier but did not receive them. Kholmiansky is a Hebrew teacher who served 1 1/2 years in a Soviet labor camp.

-- Alexander Ioffe, his wife and daughter. They have been seeking to emigrate for more than 10 years.

-- Mark Terlitsky, his wife, daughter and mother.

-- Pavel Abramovich, his wife and daughter. A Hebrew teacher, he applied to emigrate more than 15 years ago.

-- Naum Kogan, described as an elderly widower.

-- Yakov Rakhlenko, his wife and daughter.

Times staff writer Oswald Johnston contributed to this story.

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