Yelena Bonner, wife of exiled Nobel Peace Prize laureate Andrei Sakharov, has sent a telegram to a friend in Moscow confirming that she has been given permission to leave the country, but adding that she will not leave until the end of November, sources here said today.
The telegram, received by a friend of the couple today, came from Gorki, a city east of here where Bonner, 62, has been restricted with Sakharov since August, when she was tried and sentenced to internal exile on charges of anti-Soviet slander.
According to sources, the telegram read: "I have received permission to leave. I shall leave at the end of November. I am taking precautions for Andrei so he can survive the winter alone." Bonner's reference to preparing Sakharov for the winter confirmed that he has not received permission to leave and that she plans to be away for more than a month.
It was also the first message received from Gorki since news of her visa was published in the West German newspaper Bild-Zeitung on Monday.
Soviet authorities reportedly have given Bonner a temporary visa to go abroad to be treated for an eye ailment. The decision to permit her to travel was first reported by Soviet journalist Victor Louis, who has often served as a conduit for information about the exiled couple. It was confirmed yesterday by Secretary of State George P. Shultz, who said he had been told of the decision by a Soviet official, believed to be Ambassador Anatoliy Dobrynin.
Sakharov, a noted physicist, and Bonner came to be both leaders and symbols of the Soviet Union's fragile human rights movement in the late 1970s. His exile to Gorki, after he criticized the invasion of Afghanistan, marked the beginning of a crackdown that has sent most of the movement's members into either prison or exile, both within and outside the Soviet Union.
Their case has been raised repeatedly by western leaders in meetings with Soviet officials. Diplomats here see the decision to allow Bonner to go abroad as linked to the U.S.-Soviet summit meeting this month.
Louis said the temporary visa was granted because Bonner could not find treatment in Gorki. Bonner has been to Italy for treatment of glaucoma twice, but it is not known at this time where she will go. Her children by a previous marriage live in the United States.
Sakharov, 64, who has been in exile in Gorki since 1980, went on a hunger strike last year to protest Soviet authorities' refusal to allow Bonner to seek medical treatment abroad. Since then, there has been no independent report on the state of his health.