Eight times, the members of the Apekin family have applied to renounce their Soviet citizenship and leave the Soviet Union for Israel, and eight times they have been refused.
Last October as the summit meeting between President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev approached and hopes ran high, they applied again, and that time were asked to pay 700 rubles ($910) for each adult member of the family--2,100 rubles ($2,730) in all for Vladimir, his wife Katrin Skazkina, and daughter, Katya, 26.
Yet, despite this unusual payment, which they took as a sure sign of imminent exit visas, the Apekins--a Jewish family originally from Lithuania--have not received permission to leave.
Now Vladimir, 49, a former marine biologist, is suffering from a severe case of arteriosclerosis in addition to heart and lung trouble. According to his daughter, he needs immediate surgery in the West.
Katya and her mother went on a hunger strike on April 1. Katya stopped on the 18th day but says her mother is continuing.
As she launches her appeal, Katya despairs. In her view, not even another summit would help.
“One comes, then another and nothing changes,” she said.