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September 21, 1990 - Image 16

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-09-21

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

DETROIT

I

Refusenik

Continued from preceding page

Wishing All A Peaceful,
Healthy and Happy
New Year.

SARA & ASA SHAPIRO
AND FAMILY

May the coming year be
filled with health, happiness
and prosperity for all of our
Families, Friends and Customers

CSHANA
TOVA
••

••

ru tu ristic
Furnishi nos, Inc.

ANDREW D. SALLAN

16 FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 21, 1990

■■
••

SCOTT P. DRESNER

the necessary papers," said
Mr. Tsivkin, during a tele-
phone conversation from his
new home in Stamford,
Conn.
The couple quit their jobs
and prepared to leave. Eight
days later, a government of-
ficial said the visas had been
granted by mistake and the
family must stay.
"You can imagine. It was
the most terrible period of
time," he said.
Then, later that spring, he
unexpectedly received a
tourist visa so he could at-
tend a Paris human rights
conference in June. Upon his
return, thinking things had
changed, he applied for exit
and tourist visas, but was
denied.
After some discussion, the
family agreed to separate.
Irina would take their
daughter, Susanna, 17, to
the United States and cam-
paign for her husband's
release. The pair received a
tourist visa for Paris in
January where Mrs. Tviskin
met with French officials.
They later moved to Stam-
ford, which had sponsored
the family.
After settling in, Mrs.
Tsivkin toured the country
and made a stop in Detroit at
the request of the Jewish
Community Council and the
Union of Councils of Soviet
Jews, urging freedom for her
husband. He had thyroid
problems and needed medi-
cine unavailable in the
Soviet Union. Detroiters
were asked to send letters to
Soviet and American offi-
cials on behalf of Mr.
Tsivkin.
The letters from Detroit
and other communities
brought his plight to the at-
tention of New Jersey Sena-
tor Frank Lautenberg, Mr.
Tsivkin said.
On July 26, 1990, the U.S.
Senate approved Resolution
313 petitioning for Mr.
Tsivkin's release. "I have
the resolution hanging on
my apartment wall," he
said.
"I got permission to leave
the Soviet Union so I can
visit Senator Lautenberg.
The invitation was an ex-
cuse for the Soviet govern-
ment to permit me to go,"
Mr. Tsivkin said.
"There was probably a
reason to keep me for the
first two years; for two years,
not for 12. There is a differ-
ence," said Mr. Tsivkin, 40,
who admits he handled
classified documents during
his job at the Ministry of
Defense.
He received a tourist visa
in early August and 10 days
later was in the United
States.

Now that he's here, he has
begun searching for a job as
a computer systems analyst.
Mrs. Tsivkin has a tem-
porary job as a scientist for
Clairol, while their daughter
is enrolled at New York
University.
"I'm happy my family is
reunited," Mr. Tsivkin said.
"I'm thankful to all the peo-
ple who had a part in my
release. I'm grateful for the
people who just wanted to be
involved in my problem."
While Mr. Tsivkin is final-
ly free, 552 Soviet families
have been denied exit visas,
said Linda Foster, Detroit
Jewish Community Council
program director. The actual
figure is probably higher be-
cause the list reflects only
those refuseniks whose
names are known.
Mr. Tsivkin hopes to con-
tinue working to support
Soviet Jewry, including the
30 refusenik families he
knows in his hometown of
Leningrad, where he served
as B'nai B'rith president.
"Only a few people know
the stress of being a long-
term refusenik," he said. "'Ib
be a refusenik is a dangerous
occupation."
Anti-Semitism is the big-
gest threat. While Pamyat is
the best known of the anti-
Semitic groups flourishing
in the Soviet Union, the
strongest is called
Otechestvo, meaning
fatherland.
Food, medicine, and other
necessities are also hard to
find thanks to a severe econ-
omic crisis hitting the coun-
try, he said. Store shelves
are empty except in the
highly priced black market.
"The situation in the
Soviet Union is terrible,"
Mr. Tsivkin said. "They
really need support."
Detroiters must continue
to support refusniks, Ms.
Foster said.
"It's a lot easier to get
packages in Russia," she
said. "It's real important to
let them know they have not
been forgotten."
People traveling to the
Soviet Union are urged to
bring medicine and other
necessities with them to give
to families, she said.
There is a tentative project
to bring books to Jews in
Detroit's sister city, Minsk,
Ms. Foster said. "It's an
excellent way to show our
concern and interest in
preserving Judaism."
Sending letters to Ameri-
can and Soviet officials,
which helped make a differ-
ence for Mr. Tsivkin, are
also needed, she said.
"Advocacy is just as im-
portant as resettlement," she
said. ❑

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