Moscow has rejected exit applications from two young men who are staging hunger strikes in hopes of joining their wives in the United States, Monitor correspondent Ned Temko reports.
One of them, 33-year-old former computer programmer Yuri Bolovlenkov, quit fasting last month after telling reporters the authorities had told him he would get a visa. But in early July, he resumed the protest, citing a ''delay'' in receiving the document. Over the weekend, Mr. Bolovlenkov announced his mother would join his his hunger strike.
The other protester, 29-year-old free-lance photographer Sergei Petrov, has been on a hunger strike for some six weeks.
A Soviet emigration official, speaking to reporters July 9, said the rejection was on grounds of state security, an apparent reference to Mr. Petrov's brief stint in a scientific research institute and to Mr. Bolovlenkov's computer work. The official implied that US Embassy officials had encouraged the two men to engage in ''anti-social actions.'' An embassy spokesman protested this. He said a Soviet citizen's desire to emigrate was a ''personal'' matter, but that once such a decision had been made, the US government strongly supported it as consistent with the 1975 Helsinki Accords.
The Soviet official said the two men's American wives were welcome to join them in the Soviet Union and that the refusal to allow the protesters to emigrate was ''temporary.'' Under Soviet regulations, the two must wait half a year before new applications are considered.
Both Mr. Bolovlenkov and Mr. Petrov said, after the Soviet ruling, that they would continue their hunger strikes.