In September, two families received exit visas from the Soviet Union: They were Dr. Vladimir Brodsky, his wife Dina Zisserman, and their baby; and Drs. Yury Medvedkov and Olga Medvedkova, and their two children. These people had been key members of the Moscow Group for Trust for several years, and had been repeatedly punished and abused for their actions. Suddenly, however, Brodsky was released from prison and both families were allowed to depart for Vienna. The Brodsky family plans to settle in Israel, and the Medvedkovs in Columbus, Ohio, where they will work as geographers at the University of Ohio. They will probably arrive there in early December.
Although they had all been refuseniks at one time, after becoming peace activists they had stopped requesting exit visas. However, Brodsky's eventual imprisonment and the Medvedkovs' loss of their jobs meant that, when they were finally given a chance to leave, they accepted with relief.
This release is but one in a series of astonishing conciliatory gestures by Soviet officials. Mr.Gorbachev has offered amazingly visionary disairnarnent proposals. However, such actions as releasing Trust Group members may be equally consequential for peace. The dangerous thing about weapons is that they can be used by enemies. Doing away with weapons solves part of the problem. Resolving enmity is, however, a deeper solution. The release of our Moscow colleagues contributes to resolving the basis for enmity and mistrust.
The Western press, which regularly covers violations of human rights, has not reported these positive actions. If, as many peace activists believe, the Soviets must be criticized when they do wrong, they should also be applauded when they do right.