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After 16 Years, Soviets to Let Refusenik Leave

December 22, 1987|Associated Press

MOSCOW — Jewish refusenik Alexander Lerner, a computer specialist denied permission to emigrate for more than 16 years, said Monday that Soviet officials told him he will be allowed to go to Israel.

Lerner, 74, was one of the leaders of the refusenik community and one of the best-known figures remaining after the Soviets moved in the fall to clear up longstanding cases by granting permission to others such as Josef Begun, Ida Nudel and Vladimir Slepak.

Lerner said he received a telephone call Monday from the Moscow visa office, telling him that he and his relatives can leave.

"Of course, I am very happy," he said. "My daughter has been waiting for me a long time. She left in 1973."

Lerner said authorities also are allowing the emigration of his son, Vladimir; his daughter-in-law, Tanya, and their 2-year-old daughter, Julia.

Lerner linked the authorities' sudden reversal to recent talks that Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev has had with President Reagan, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke.

"All of them mentioned my name to Mr. Gorbachev," Lerner said.

He said he probably will leave sometime in January and plans to settle in Israel. Lerner said he was invited to work in his speciality of cybernetics--comparative study of computers and the human nervous system--at a scientific institute in Israel in 1971 and still hopes to take up that offer.

Lerner said in March that he had been told for the first time why he was being denied permission to emigrate. He said the visa office told him the prestigious Soviet Academy of Sciences, where he had been a department head, said he had access to state secrets.

Lerner said that the last time he did classified scientific work was 25 years ago.

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