Close relatives of Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov said they were still hopeful he would be allowed to leave the Soviet Union - despite recent conflicting signals from the Kremlin.
Tatiana Yankelevich, Dr. Sakharov's stepdaughter, who along with her husband, Efrem, acts as Dr. Sakarov's spokesman in the West, is calling on Soviet leader Yuri Andropov to clarify the Kremlin's position on the Nobel Prize-winning physicist, who has been kept in internal exile in the city of Gorky since 1980. Monitor writer Gregory M. Lamb reports that on April 27, a Soviet minister said on Swedish television that Dr. Sakharov could expect no trouble receiving an exit visa if he applied for one. But on Wednesday the Soviet news agency Tass said he could not leave the Soviet Union because he possessed particularly important state and military secrets. Mrs. Yankelevich, who emigrated from the USSR with her husband several years ago and now lives in the Boston area, said she believes the Tass charges are no more than predictable posturing aimed at the West. She remained encouraged by the April 27 statement.
''What is surprising is that they (Tass) bothered to draft a reply at all,'' said Marhall I. Goldman, associate director of Harvard University's Russian Research Center. ''That is significant.'' Although Dr. Goldman still doubts Dr. Sakharov will be allowed to leave anytime soon, he points out that Western analysts were taken by surprise when the Kremlin allowed author Alexander Solzhenitsyn to leave several years ago.