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Emigration Official Says 26,000 Have Left So Far This Year

November 17, 1987

MOSCOW (AP) _ A top visa official said Monday that more than 26,000 Soviets have been allowed to emigrate this year, and he disclosed that another citizen will be permitted to join his spouse in the United States.

In an interview with the official Tass news agency, Rudolf Kuznetsov, head of the Interior Ministry’s Office of Visas and Registrations, said Yuri Balovlenkov would be given an exit visa. Balovlenkov has waited nearly a decade to go to Baltimore, where his wife and two children live.

In Baltimore, Elena Balovlenko told The Associated Press that the Soviets had given her husband permission to emigrate to the U.S. in 1982 and later withdrew it. But, she added, ″I’m thrilled. I really do believe it’s true.″

″I can’t wait for when a time comes when I don’t have to have two jobs. We can just be a regular family,″ she said. ″I’ll get to be just a wife.″

Mrs. Balovlenkov said she believes the proximity of the couple’s ninth wedding anniversary, Dec. 5, to the planned U.S.-Soviet summit set for Dec. 7 in Washington probably explains the Soviet decision to grant her husband’s request.

″I think the Soviets are very cognizant of the U.S. interest in human rights,″ she said.

Two Soviet women who have been trying for years to join their husbands in the United States, Yelena Kaplan and Galina Goltzman, were told by a secretary at the Supreme Soviet on Friday that they would be allowed to leave soon. Kuznetsov confirmed they would receive exit visas.

Balovlenkov, Ms. Goltzman and Ms. Kaplan were among a group of Soviet spouses who appealed to the Supreme Soviet, the nation’s nominal parliament, to examine their repeated rejections by the visa office. The Supreme Soviet earlier this year established a special commission to look into longstanding emigration disputes.

Tass did not say how many of the more than 26,000 emigres this year were headed for Israel and how many went to other countries.

In recent years, Jewish emigration dwindled to about 1,000 annually. Only a handful of other Soviets were allowed to leave each year to join relatives in Western countries.

Despite the sharp increase in departures permitted this year, the number still is below the 51,000 Soviet Jews allowed to leave in 1979, the peak year for U.S.-Soviet emigration.

The report quoting Kuznetsov also claimed that the number of private visits abroad that Soviets have been allowed to make has doubled this year compared to the same period in 1986.

Kuznetsov said allowing Soviets to visit relatives in other countries has cut down on the number of applications for permanent departure.

The chief of the visa office also claimed that only 8 percent of applications for emigration are rejected - a figure which he said was far below last year’s rejection percentage.

Kuznetsov said the ″most characteristic tendency″ in Soviet emigration is a drop in the number of applications to leave for Israel. But he did not make clear how significant the decrease was.

In the interview with Tass, Kuznetsov attacked Josef Begun, a Jewish activist who has been granted permission to leave the Soviet Union but has not departed yet.

Kuznetsov said Begun was putting off his departure because ″he acts at the bid of his masters in the West.″

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