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Gorbachev Releases Two Refusenik Families

December 3, 1987

SYDNEY, Australia (AP) _ Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev is allowing two Jewish ″refusenik″ families to emigrate, in an apparent goodwill gesture toward Prime Minister Bob Hawke of Australia.

The families were on a list Hawke presented to Gorbachev, the Australian Associated Press said in a report Wednesday.

Hawke was informed of the decision as he concluded a four-day visit to the Soviet Union on Wednesday night, AAP said. The Soviet leader spent more than three hours with Hawke on Tuesday.

The agency said Gorbachev sent a special emissary to the Australian ambassador’s residence as Hawke was about to leave for the airport to fly to Tokyo.

The emissary said Gorbachev had decided to give exit visas to five people, the AAP reported. They are Pavel and Marta Abramovich and Alexander and Rosa Joffe and their daughter Anna. All plan go to Israel, AAP said.

Hawke was delighted by the decision, which he announced after his plane left Moscow, the agency said.

It said Gorbachev also promised to give quick consideration to other refuseniks, the name for people who want to leave the Soviet Union and are denied permission.

The Abramovich family has been trying to leave since 1971, while the Joffe family first applied in 1976.

Both reportedly were refused exit visas on the grounds that they knew state secrets.

Soviet officials frequently cite ″state security reasons″ in refusing exit visas. Many people refused permission to leave have been told they were denied visas because they knew state secrets.

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