New York Times: 10 Years, a Postcard and Next, Israel


August 17, 1988

By ESTHER B. FEIN, Special to the New York Times

MOSCOW, Aug. 16— The postcard came for David and Anna Shvartsman last week, a simple official affirmation that their application to immigrate to Israel had finally been accepted.

The Shvartsmans had been waiting nearly 10 years for the card, and for the last two months, their anticipation had been heightened by the hope that meeting with President Reagan during the summit meeting at the end of May — at a tea the Reagans held for dissidents and would-be emigres — would end their wait.

»We can only be thankful for the President’s help,» said Yudif Lurie, Mrs. Shvartsman’s mother. »On that day, our Soviet authorities had to accept the attention of the world, focused on this issue, by someone with the world’s respect. And as a mother, I now see that my daughter is free.»

Not all of the 96 people who met with President and Mrs. Reagan have found their cases so quickly resolved or their harassment eased. Though her daughter’s refusal has been ended, Mrs. Lurie, her husband, Emmanuil, and their daughter Bella have been told that their decade-long request to leave has still not been granted. Positive Results Seen

But American Embassy officials and many of those who met the President said they thought the meeting had already produced, and will continue to produce, positive results for the cause of human rights in the Soviet Union.

»Pressure on any level helps,» said Sergei L. Petrov, a photographer who sat next to Nancy Reagan at the reception. »Pressure at the highest level is unmatched in what it ultimately can accomplish.»

Mr. Petrov learned last month through American officials that his eight-year quest to emigrate had failed again, but he said, »It would be wrong to think meeting with the President was the wrong approach and that»s why I’m still stuck.»

President Reagan was severely criticized by Soviet officials and the press for his hardline stance on human rights before and during the summit meeting. The meeting with Soviet dissidents and others at Spaso House earned particular ire, and the day after it took place, Soviet newspapers and television programs chided the President and attacked several of the guests, denouncing one as a Nazi war criminal. American Officials Concerned

American officials said that at the time, they were concerned that the press reports signaled that the Soviet authorities intended to defy the President’s appeals. Their fears were raised, some officials said, when a day after the meeting, Sergei A. Kovalev, a human rights campaigner who spoke at the event, was told that a job he had been offered was being revoked because of his participation.

But in the last two months, embassy officials said they had seen slow but steady progress in settling cases highlighted by the Reagan meeting. While the Government has reaffirmed its decision to deny emigration visas to several longtime would-be emigres, and most have heard nothing at all, several families have left or been told that they are free to go.

»It’s impossible to tell precisely whom officials planned to release before that meeting, and whom they may be holding back because of it,» one embassy official said. »But it seems to us that in general, human rights was given a boost and we are moving in a positive direction.» Mathematician With Cancer

Veniamin I. Charny, a mathematician with cancer who had waited nearly a decade, received permission soon after the summit and has already left. So have Boris Perchatkin, his wife and eight children, Pentecostals from Nakhodka in the Soviet Far East. Pyatras Pakenas, a Lithuanian whose wife was living in the West, has joined her; Kim Fridman of Kiev also left for the West to join his wife.

Tatyana and Yuri Zieman and their daughter Vera, whom the Reagans planned to visit at home in Moscow until the Soviet authorities pressed them not to, left Moscow last week. Ilya Besprozvanny was told that he was no longer considered a security risk — an amorphous designation the authorities often use in denying exit visas — and was therefore free to apply to leave.

Yuli M. Kosharovsky was the person at the meeting longest refused permission by the Soviet authorities to emigrate, with 17 years of applications followed by refusals.

Mr. Kosharovsky still holds that undesired distinction, his request to emigrate denied once again. Speech at Reception

One embassy official said the fact that Mr. Kosharovsky was one of three guests who gave speeches at the reception »probably has not helped his case,» although Mr. Kosharovsky said he did not regret speaking.

Another man still waiting for news is Abe Stolar, an American citizen who came here with his parents as a teenager in the 1930’s and has been unable to leave. He, his wife and son have been given exit permits, but his Soviet daughter-in-law, Yuliya Shurukht, has not, and the family refuses to leave without her.

Mr. Reagan seemed to take a personal interest in Mr. Stolar, a man of his age, born in his home state, Illinois. »But we’ve heard nothing, absolutely nothing,» Mr. Stolar said. »Nevertheless, I still think it can only help that he showed so much interest.»

Gauging the impact of the meeting on the would-be emigres is fairly simple, embassy officials note: either people receive visas or they don’t. It has been more difficult to measure what, if any, effect it has had on those dissidents not seeking to leave the country. Journals Being Published

Mr. Kovalev was the one clear case embassy officials could point to of someone suffering as a direct result of meeting with the President, although they do not know if the job offer was revoked at the highest level, or because someone at the institute where he was to work became nervous about the prospect.

Editors of unofficial publications who attended the event — Aleksandr Podrabinek of Ekspress Khronika, Lev M. Timofeyev of Referendum and Sergei I. Grigoryants of Glasnost — continue to publish their journals amid the varying degrees of harassment they confronted before.

The Rev. Georgy Edelshtein, a dissident Russian Orthodox priest who was told a week before the reception that he would not receive a parish, was last month assigned to one in Kostroma, outside Moscow. And the Rev. Gleb Yakunin, who spoke at the event, continues to have intermittent trouble with the Russian Orthodox Church, as he did before the Reagan visit to Moscow.

The family of Paruir A. Airikyan, an Armenian prominent in the nationalist movement who was recently expelled from the Soviet Union, is planning to join him in the United States, although embassy officials say an application has not yet been filed. Mr. Airikyan was imprisoned at the time of the summit reception, but his family attended. Attacked for War Crimes

Most enigmatic of the guests remains Nikolai Rozhko, an American citizen who has been trying to leave the Soviet Union for many years. After the reception, the Soviet press accused Mr. Rozhko of being a Nazi war criminal. American officials confirmed that Mr. Rozhko had been convicted of war crimes, but say that since he served his sentence he should be free to leave.

»At no time during years of negotitating with the Soviets over him did they mention his record,» said one official. »I think it was a cheap shot they fired because of the meeting.»

Even some who left had parting run-ins with Soviet resistance to their departures. Two weeks after the Spaso House meeting, a Soviet official told the Zieman family that their application had been refused again and that they could not reapply until 1992.

»It was very, very upsetting to us,» Mr. Zieman said before the family left Moscow. »But I think even more than worrying us, they wanted to show that President Reagan couldn’t tell them what to do. But I think in the end, he did.»

photo of Tatyana and Yuri Zieman and their daughter (NYT/Esther B. Finn)

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