Soviet engineer Yuri Balovlenkov is continuing a 62-day hunger strike that he had hoped would force authorities to let him join his wife and children in Baltimore.
For the past 20 days, Balovlenkov, 36, a former radio engineer, has lain in bed, unable to walk. He reportedly has lost 66 pounds since he stopped eating March 25. His liver is swollen and his heart is weak, according to his mother, Katerina Petrov, quoting a physician.
So far, Balovlenkov has heard nothing new from Soviet visa authorities, the family said. He first applied for permission to leave this country six years ago, after he married Elena Kuzmenko, a nurse in Baltimore. Since then, she has been here on visits, and two daughters have been born.
Balovlenkov, turned down for an exit visa at first because he had worked at a radio institute, has gone on two other hunger strikes in the intervening years to protest the official refusals. Twice, he says, he has been promised the long-awaited exit visa and twice, he says, he has been deceived.
Last January, Balovlenkov and two other Soviet citizens married to foreigners and denied exit visas began a hunger strike. They were Tamara Tretyakova, married to a former Soviet citizen now living in Illinois, and Alexandr Pereldik, married to a Peruvian woman now in Peru with their son. That strike ended, and only Balovlenkov has resumed it.