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Lawmakers, Charny’s Family Plea For Soviet Cancer Patient’s Release

September 22, 1987

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Preventing cancer patients like Benjamin Charny from leaving the Soviet Union to get medical treatment and join their families in the United States is the equivalent of murder, the mathematician’s daughter said in an emotional plea.

″Please help us. Please help my father,″ Anna Charny-Blank, 27, said Monday, tears welling in her eyes. ″It is cruel enough to keep a healthy man, but for a man as sick as my father, it is a death sentence. It is murder.″

Charny, 49, was one of five Soviet cancer patients who last year publicly appealed to the world community for help. Soviet officials allowed Ms. Charny- Blank to emigrate to the United States last week, but refused to approve the release her father.

The daughter, who called leaving her father and mother behind ″the most difficult decision in my life,″ said Charny suffers from cancer and a severe cardiac disorder.

The Soviet Union will not allow him to leave because he worked 16 years ago for an institute that conducted classified work. Charny supporters say the work is no longer secret and that he poses no threat to Soviet security.

Ms. Charny-Blank, other Soviet emigres and lawmakers from both political parties said at a Washington news conference that allowing Charny to come to the United States would be a sign that the Soviets are serious about better relations with the West.

″We’re not asking in political terms, but on straight humanitarian terms, that people who are sick be entitled to join their families in this country and receive the medical care they so desperately need,″ said Sen. John F. Kerry, D-Mass. Charny’s brother, Leon, lives in Needham, Mass.

″The time has come for the Soviet Union to simply act as decent people ... as any reasonable and sensible country would do,″ said Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass. Frank called for an end of ″the trafficking of human beings.″

Sen. Pete Wilson, R-Calif., said the cancer patients and their families have become ″pawns″ in a Soviet public relations game.

″While a limited number of additional refuseniks have come West in recent months, this fanfare should not be allowed to mask the Soviets’ deplorable record of human rights violations,″ Wilson said.

The senator said up to 300,000 Soviets want to come to the West.

″Why is glasnost preached but not practiced?″ asked Sophia Bravve, 38, a cancer patient who was recently allowed to leave the Soviet Union. While she was permitted to join her brother in Rochester, N.Y., her parents had to remain behind.

″Why was I forced to make this awful choice between my health and the love of my parents?″ she said through her brother.

Dr. Gerald Batist, head of the International Cancer Patients Solidarity Committee, said the news conference was called to show ″the human counterpoint to Mr. (Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard) Shevardnadze’s visit.″

″Is this openness, or is this a form of murder?″ he asked.

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