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Prominent Jewish Activist, Other Refuseniks Told They Can Leave

September 8, 1987

MOSCOW (AP) _ Members of four Soviet Jewish families were told today - a day after Josef Begun and several other refuseniks got similar news - that they will be allowed to emigrate, a Jewish activist said.

Vladimir Slepak, a Jew who has been trying to secure an exit visa since 1970, said emigration officials told the families by telephone they would be notified by mail when they can get their visas.

All were refused permission to emigrate earlier - such people are dubbed refuseniks - on state security grounds.

Officials on Monday told Jewish activist Josef Begun and other refuseniks they could emigrate to Israel.

Begun, a 55-year-old Hebrew teacher who first applied for an exit visa 16 years ago, was released from prison in February after serving more than three years of a seven-year term for anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda.

He told The Associated Press by telephone today he does not know when he and his family will be leaving, but said: ″We are not planning to delay our departure any more than we have to. We will be leaving soon enough, but there is a lot of paperwork to be completed first.″

Slepak said in a telephone interview that three Jewish families from Moscow - Valery Lerner, Boris and Emma Lanzman and Boris Kun - and Yevgeniya Palanker, a woman from Yereven in Armenia, were told today they would be allowed to leave the Soviet Union.

Soviets often have been punished for seeking to emigrate. Some refuseniks now being allowed to emigrate were told previously they could not leave because they had had access to state secrets in their jobs.

Begun, among the best-known Jewish refuseniks, speculated Monday that granting him an exit visa ″could be connected to a summit″ this year between Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev and President Reagan.

″We were waiting too long, but this is wonderful, and we feel exalted ... our feelings are now directed at meeting our people soon on our land, in our country, in Jerusalem,″ Begun told Israeli television by telephone.

Another Jewish activist, scientist Viktor Brailovsky, 51, and his wife Irina were also told Monday that they could emigrate.

Brailovsky, who first applied to emigrate in 1972, was sentenced to three years of internal exile starting in 1981 for ″defaming the Soviet regime.″ He had edited a Jewish cultural publication.

Slepak said Monday he was told Arkady and Helena Mai and Lev Sud also would be allowed to leave. He said the Mais had been waiting almost 14 years. Mai was fired from his radio engineer’s job.

Reports from Jewish groups in London and Jerusalem said refuseniks Semyon Yantovsky, Lev Ovsishchev and Vladimir Lifshitz also had received permission to emigrate.

Lifshitz, a 45-year-old mathematician involved in the Jewish cultural movement, had been denied an exit visa since 1981. He was arrested last year and sentenced to three years in prison camp for anti-Soviet activity, but was released in March.

On Monday, the Evening Moscow newpaper reported Begun, Ovsishchev and Brailovsky would be allowed to leave.

The article, responding to a letter sent by seven refuseniks that was mentioned but not printed, complained that anti-Semitism is growing in the Soviet Union.

The article responded, ″The propaganda of Zionism is equal to anti- Semitism - and just as racist ... The cost is the same and our attitudes to it also are equal.″

In the first eight months of this year, 4,681 Jews were allowed to emigrate and 1,180 of them went to Israel, according to Israeli figures. The number of emigrants last month was 742.

About 1,000 Jews were allowed to leave in each of the last few years. The peak year for Jewish emigration was 1979, when 51,000 were allowed to leave.

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