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US Representatives Meet with Members of Divided Families

April 10, 1985

MOSCOW (AP) _ Visiting U.S. Congressmen met with five Soviets seeking permission to emigrate and join their American spouses and promised to raise the issue today with Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev, one of the would-be emigres said.

The leader of the delegation, House of Representatives Speaker Thomas P. O’Neill, said later his group had discussed human rights with Gorbachev. He declined to say what, if any, specific cases were raised during the Kremlin talks.

O’Neill, other members of the delegation, and representatives of the U.S. Embassy met with the group of Soviets on Tuesday at one of their homes, said the would-be emigre, asking not to be identified by name.

″Mr. O’Neill told us he would bring up our cases when he met with gorbachev,″ the source said. ″We spent a lot of time talking about our situation and the congressmen told us the issue of divided spouses is in some ways more important than just emigration in general.

″They said it’s not just a question of leaving, but also of being reunited with our husbands and wives,″ the group member said.

Among those attending the meeting was Tamara Tretyakova Lipshitz, who has been on a hunger strike since March 18 in an effort to win permission to join her husband, Simon, in Deerfield, Ill.

Lipshitz, who has changed his last name to Levin, was a Soviet citizen who was allowed to emigrate in 1979. His wife and child, then 8 months old, were denied exit visas.

The others present were:

- Yelena Kaplan, whose husband, Gary Talanov, lives in San Francisco. The two were married in 1977 when Talanov was a student in Moscow.

- Sergei Petrov, husband of Virginia Hurt Johnson, a law student in Winston-Salem, N.C.

- Matvei Finkel, whose wife, Susan Graham of Washington, D.C., is living in the Soviet Union and working as a nanny in the foreign community.

- Yuri Balovlenkov, who married Elena Kusmenko of Baltimore, Md., in December 1978.

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