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October 19, 1979 - Image 8

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1979-10-19

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

8 Friday, October 19, 1919

The Faces Behind the Numbers: Case of the Poltinnikovs

By REP. WILLIAM
BROOMFIELD

to do everything possible to
reunite families separated
by political boundaries. The
Kremlin, however, recog-
nizes this obligation more in
its breach than in its obser-
vance. .
The consequences of this
suppression of human
rights were graphically
illustrated during my five-
year effort to assist a Soviet
Jewish family in obtaining
permission to emigrate to
Israel.

WASHINGTON - In the
normal discourse among
nations, catchwords such as
"human rights" often get
bandied about without full
recognition of the human
suffering that lack of those
rights represents.
As a signatory of the Hel-
sinki Accords, the Soviet
Union agreed to certain
principles of human rights.
Among these was a pledge

.

Dr. Isaac Poltinnikov noted ophthalmologist who
and his family had had served as a colonel in
applied and had been re- the Soviet Army until his
fused exit visas two years retirement in 1971. During
before I, at the request of his service in the army, he
some of my constituents, was the chief ophthal-
became involved in the mologist of the Red Army
matter. From the time Medical Corps in Siberia,
they submitted their exit and had been decorated sev-
applications in July of eral times for valor during
1972, they were subjected World War II.
to merciless persecution,
Despite his background,
harassment, and humili- once he filed an application
ation.
for emigration, Dr. Poltin-
Dr. Poltinnikov was a nikov's rank was revoked

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WILLIAM BROOMFIELD

and later his military pen-
sion was cancelled. He
found that civilian positions
for which he was well qual-
ified were also closed to him.
Dr. Poltinnikov's wife,
Irma, worked as a car-
diologist and diagnostician,
and his eldest daughter,
Victoria, was a radiologist.
Their experiences were
similar with the loss of their
jobs and other positions in
their fields closed to them.
A few months after
their initial application
for emigration, the Soviet
authorities permitted Dr.
Poltinnikov's youngest
daughter, Eleanora, her
husband, and Mrs. Pol-
tinnikov's father to leave
the country. However,
the rest of the family's re-
quests were denied.
Their lives were subjected
to repeated denials for exit
visas, surveillance, mail
censorship and intercep-
tions, and harassment by
the secret police.
The Poltinnikovs did not
quietly acquiesce to their
situation. They protested,
wrote letters to friends out-
side the Soviet Union and
sought help where they
could.
Yet the years of unrelent-
ing official harassment and
the constant deprivations
began to take their toll.
Their health suffered,
and their fears became
such that they bar-
ricaded their door and
refused to see even old
friends for nearly a year.
Gradually they started
seeing other Soviet "re-
fusniks" and friends on a
limited basis, but the old
fears never went away.
During the five years that
I was involved with the Pol-
tinnikovs' plight, I brought
their case before Congress
and wrote to various Soviet
leaders on their behalf. The
State Department was
brought in and assured me
repeatedly that they would
pursue the Poltinnikov case
at every opportunity.
Finally, in February of
this year, I received the wel-
come news that the Poltin-
nikovs had received permis-
sion to leave. But Mrs. Pol-
•innikov was by now afraid
to leave her apartment. Dr.
Poltinnikov made the dif-
ficult decision to go to Israel
alone to show her that they
really could leave. Victoria,
the eldest daughter, was to
stay and help her mother,
and then leave with her.
In mid-August ',received

the sad information that
Mrs. Poltinnikov died. Soon
after that, Victoria, at age
36, took her own life, never
having tasted the freedom
for which -she had so suf-
fered.
The case of the Poltin-
nikov family is now
closed. Yet many of the
long-standing cases, such
as that of Anatoly
Shcharansky, remain
unresolved.
Record numbers of Sm.
Jews presently are being
allowed to emigrate, as the
Kremlin tries to influence
U.S. foreign policy and the
SALT II debate. However,
even with this large number
of emigrations, many many
more people cottinue to
have their applications re-
fused.
Human rights are uni=
versal and should not be a
tool of international poli-
tics. Its guarantee and
achievement should be ends
in themselves.
It is my hope that, with
attention continually being
brought upon the Soviet
Union's failure to live up to
the Helsinki Accords, that
nation finally will be forced
to observe the principles of
human dignity as pledged.

Detroiters Attend
UJA Conference

CLEVELAND - Hun-
dreds of prominent Ameri-
can Jewish communal and
campaign leaders are meet-
ing at the United Jewish
Appeal East Central Lead-
ership Conference this
weekend at the Marriott
East Hotel here to explore
the major issues of the 1980
UJA campaign.
Detroit area residents
attending the conference
include: Ruth Broder, Beth
Feldman, Larry Jackier,
Shelley Jackier, Richard
Krugel,' Sally Krugel,
Robert Naftaly, Judy Naf-
taly, Linda Lee, Edie Mit-
tenthal, Jane Sherman,
Larry Sherman, Frieda
Stollman, Barbara
Stollman, Joel Tauber, Stan
Frankel and Joel Gershen-
son.
Among the guest speak-
ers are Senator Frank
Church, chairman of the
Senate Foreign Relations
Committee; Dr. Seymour
Martin Lipset, professor of
political science and
sociology at Stanford Uni-
versity; Dr. Alan Do
professor of governmenc-
and international studies
at the University of Notre
Dame; and Rabbi Arthur J.
Lelyveld, newly elected
president of the Synagogue
Council of America.

Israel Lecture
in DIA Series

The Detroit Institute of
Arts has released the
schedule of its World Ad-
venture Series of films and
lectures.
Included is the Feb. 3
travelogue "Israel in 1979"
with Andre De La Varre.
For ticket information
about the weekly programs,
call the Detroit Institute of
Arts, 832-7676.

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