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U.S. Says Soviet Emigration Policy Must Change If Summit Is To Succeed

November 16, 1987

MOSCOW (AP) _ U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John C. Whitehead began talks today with Soviet officials on human rights and said the Kremlin must change its emigration policy if next month’s superpower summit is to succeed.

Whitehead, the State Department’s No. 2 officer, arrived in Moscow Sunday morning and met with about 40 Soviets seeking exit visas.

″We will tell the Soviets that if they want the summit meeting to be successful, they must change their emigration policy,″ he said.

President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev are to begin the summit Dec. 7 in Washington. They are expected to sign a treaty scrapping intermediate-range nuclear missiles.

U.S. officials invited about 40 Jewish refuseniks, members of divided families and Soviet spouses of U.S. citizens to an afternoon reception at one of the brick townhouses at the U.S. Embassy complex. Refuseniks are Soviets who are denied exit visas.

One of them is dissident Naum Meiman, who has been seeking permission to emigrate for 12 years.

Meiman did some theoretical calculations in the 1950s for the Institute of Physical Problems, where other scientists were developing the Soviet Union’s nuclear arsenal.

His wife, Inna, suffered from cancer of the spine and was allowed to leave this year for treatment. She died in February while receiving care in Washington, but Soviet officials refused to allow Meiman to attend her funeral.

A Leningrad couple who has been waiting 10 years for permission to emigrate, Irina Alievskaya and Igor Smirnov, gave Whitehead a purple-hued abstract painting done by Smirnov.

Ms. Alievskaya, who worked as a computer engineer 13 years ago in the Ministry of Shipbuilding, said she has received an invitation from a Boston doctor to undergo necessary surgery.

″At first, authorities told me my visa application was being turned down because of my former job,″ she said. ″Now they keep silent. They don’t tell us yes, and they don’t tell us no.″

In recent weeks, the Soviets have reversed themselves on some of the oldest emigration cases, allowing the departure of Vladimir Slepak, who waited 17 years for permission, and fellow Jewish activist Ida Nudel, who had tried for 16 years to leave.

Yelena Kaplan and Galina Goltzman, two Soviets married to U.S. citizens, were told Friday that their visa requests had been approved.

U.S. officials say about 6,000 Jews have been allowed out this year compared with fewer than 1,000 in 1986. However, the figures are far below the peak year of 1979, when 51,000 Jews left the Soviet Union.

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