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Boris Begun Plans Hunger Strike For Father’s Release

February 17, 1987

MOSCOW (AP) _ The son of imprisoned Jewish activist Josef Begun said today he will begin a hunger strike if his father is not freed by Wednesday.

Boris Begun, who also demonstrated briefly today on behalf of a Jewish woman seeking medical treatment in the West, said his family still has no confirmation of a Soviet official’s claim that Josef Begun was released from prison.

U.S. affairs specialist Georgy Arbatov said Sunday during an American television interview that Begun was freed.

″I don’t understand how he can say on television that father has been released when he is still in jail,″ the younger Begun told reporters today outside KGB headquarters.

Inna Begun, Josef’s wife, said today she had not heard from her husband or prison autxorities about an impending release.

Boris Begun said an Interior Ministry corrections official told him Monday that his father still was in Chistopol Prison, 500 miles east of Moscow, and that there was no order to free him.

The elder Begun, a 55-year-old Hebrew teacher, was convicted of anti-Soviet agitation and pr paganda in October 1983 and sentenced to seven years in prison and five years in exile.

Boris Begun today accompanied Fyodor Finkel to the main KGB building on Dzerzhinsky Square and opened up cardboard signs urging that Finkel and his wife, Svetlana Mayanikova, be allowed to leave the country so she can get medical treatment for fertility problems.

The signs were immediately snatched away by two plainclothes security agents.

Begun and Finkel were among several refuseniks - those denied permission to emigrate - who were arrested after demonstrating last week in central Moscow for Josef Begun’s release and emigration rights.

Begun and Finkel were ordered summarily to serve 15 days in jail and were were ordered to appear at a Moscow militia station Wednesday to begin the sentence.

″If father is not home by the time I am put in jail, I will hunger strike until he is home,″ Begun said.

Finkel said he also planned a hunger strike on behalf of his wife.

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