AP NEWS
Related topics

Family, Neighbors, Police Prepare For Long-Awaited Visit

December 7, 1985

NEWTON, Mass. (AP) _ A white, frame house in this Boston suburb will become an international focal point with today’s arrival of Soviet dissident Yelena Bonner and her reunion with her daughter after a six-year separation.

Mrs. Bonner, wife of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning dissident Andrei Sakharov, whose hunger strike in the Soviet city of Gorky has drawn headlines around the world, took off this morning on a flight from Rome.

She is scheduled to arrive tonight at the home of her daughter, where she will stay while being diagnosed and treated in Boston for heart problems.

She will stay at the house of her 35-year-old daughter, Tatiana Yankelevich, who has orchestrated media coverage of her mother’s trip to the West from the living room of her comfortable home on tree-lined Maplewood Avenue since late October.

To obtain permission for the trip, Mrs. Bonner signed an agreement with Soviet authorities not to talk to reporters while she is in the West.

Mrs. Bonner’s visa is for three months, but family members have said it can be extended if necessary.

A State Department official in Washington said Friday that in light of the agreement not to speak publicly, the government won’t invite her to the White House.

″We’re very mindful of the delicacy of her trip and we don’t want to be perceived as encumbering her visit,″ said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. ″If she wants to see someone, we will defer to her wishes.″

Mrs. Yankelevich last saw her mother in 1979. Mrs. Bonner, 62, was in internal exile in Gorky until last week, when the government allowed her to travel to Italy and the United States for medical treatment.

Mrs. Yankelevich’s husband, Efrem, who handles Sakharov’s affairs, has been in Italy with Mrs. Bonner, along with Mrs. Bonner’s son, Alexi Semyonov, 29.

Mrs. Bonner, who saw an eye doctor in Siena for her glaucoma and cataracts, received a visa at the U.S. Embassy in Rome on Friday. She spoke with U.S. Ambassador Maxwell Rabb and accepted a letter of welcome from Secretary of State George P. Shultz.

She also met with Italian Premier Bettino Craxi and said the meeting was a tribute to her husband, a physicist who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1975.

Pope John Paul II also received Mrs. Bonner, but the Vatican gave no details of the meeting. The pope received the Yankeleviches last year.

Yankelevich has been a full-time crusader for the freedom of Mrs. Bonner and Sakharov, who staged several hunger strikes to win his wife’s release.

Newton police said they were preparing for the onslaught of reporters expected to follow Mrs. Bonner to the middle-class neighborhood just west of Boston.

″We’ve been in contact with the family and whatever security needs they have, we’ll help them,″ said Lt. James O’Donnell. ″We don’t want their tranquility disturbed if they don’t.″

Neighbors said they, too, were making preparations.

″Usually, there is no traffic on Maplewood Avenue,″ said Jacquie Parker. ″I better do my shopping today so I can get down the road before the traffic starts.″

On Friday, Mrs. Yankelevich spent the day washing windows, grocery shopping, cleaning the basement and setting up clothing racks and a trundle bed.

″They usually don’t pay too much attention to their house, so it’s easy to see the change in activity,″ said Judith Frampton, who lives across the street. ″I saw them washing windows, pulling out old carpet and there are all those (furniture) crates out front now.

″It’s like anybody’s relatives coming that they haven’t seen in a long time.″

AP RADIO
Update hourly