Congressmen To Accompany Bonner To Moscow; Children Turned Down
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Dissident Yelena Bonner will be accompanied to Moscow by two congressmen, but the Soviet Union has refused to let her daughter and her son travel with her, her son-in-law says.
Efrem Yankelevich said Thursday his wife, Tatiana, was told by the Soviet consulate in Washington she could not go with her mother. Yankelevich said Mrs. Bonner’s son, Alexei Semyonov, had been told by Soviet authorities earlier he would not be allowed to visit his former homeland.
Mrs. Bonner, wife of physicist and human rights activist Andrei Sakharov, had been staying since December in Newton, Mass., with her children from her first marriage. She came to the United States for medical treatment and is returning to the Soviet Union to rejoin Sakharov, who is in exile in Gorky, a city closed to foreigners.
Mrs. Bonner had asked Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., to go with her to the Soviet capital, and Frank invited Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Calif.
″Barney got a visa to accompany Mrs. Bonner. He received the visa, as did Mr. Lungren, this morning from the Soviet consulate in Washington,″ said Douglas Cahn, Frank’s top Washington aide.
Tom Needles, a spokesman for Lungren, confirmed the California congressman also had been notified by the consulate that his visa had been approved.
Needles said Frank and Lungren would fly to Rome on Sunday, meet Mrs. Bonner in Milan and then fly to Moscow. The congressmen will return to Washington on Tuesday, he said.
Mrs. Bonner will continue to Gorky to be reunited with Sakharov. Because foreigners are not allowed in Gorky, the congressmen cannot go with her there.
Mrs. Yankelevich flew to Europe with her mother in the first leg of Mrs. Bonner’s trip back to Gorky.
Yankelevich said his wife applied to go to Moscow as a tourist and the request was approved a week or two ago by authorities in Moscow.
″Today the Soviet Embassy in Washington said she was denied the visa,″ he said. ″They gave no reason.″
Yankelevich, reached at his home in Newton, Mass., said his wife was disappointed to learn her visa was rejected.
″When Tatiana learned she might have the visa, she got very excited. She wanted very much to go to Moscow. I felt very sad about her. I had to tell her she wouldn’t be able to go,″ he said.
He said his wife and Semyonov had applied for visas to Moscow, but through different routes to increase their chances of success.
Semyonov applied directly to the Soviet consulate to accompany his mother to the Soviet Union. ″He got his refusal very quickly,″ Yankelevich said.
Mrs. Yankelevich applied for a tourist’s visa through a travel agency.
″Very few people are going to Moscow because of (the nuclear plant explosion in) Chernobyl, so they’re very anxious to get everybody who wants to come and they stamp visas automatically,″ Yankelevich said.
He said the visa was issued but had to be stamped by the Soviet consulate in Washington.
″At the consulate, they know my wife only too well because she made a lot of trouble every time she came there,″ he said.