UNITED NATIONS, N. Y. (Jan. 15)
“There is no Jewish problem in the Soviet Union at all. This problem is created by those who wish to impede good relations,” Anastas I. Mikoyan, First Deputy Premier of the USSR, declared here today at a press conference. He was answering a question posed to him by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency correspondent here.
The correspondent, Saul Carson, asked: “Mr. Mikoyan, during your current trip in the United States you have disassociated yourself from the late Mr. Beria. Mr. Beria was apparently largely responsible for the liquidation of Jewish culture, particularly Yiddish culture, in the Soviet Union. As a member of the government, do you contemplate any steps in the near future to reinstitute the free exercise of the Yiddish theatre, press and other Jewish cultural activities in the Soviet Union?”
Mr. Mikoyan’s answer to the question was: “In my country all peoples enjoy freedom, and freedom for the development of their culture. They can have their theatres, their literature, and that includes the Jews. However, the Jewish population has merged with the Russians in Russian culture so fully that Jews participate in general culture and literature, on the Russian stage and in Russian literature. There are many Jewish writers who consider themselves Russian and prefer to write Russian. We cannot interfere in that matter. This is a matter of the Jewish intelligentsia.
“We do create all conditions in which Jewish and Russian literatures and the literatures of all other Soviet peoples should have full opportunities for their development, writing and creation,” the Soviet Deputy Premier continued. “There is no Jewish problem in the Soviet Union at all. This problem is created by those who wish to impede good relations.”
Shortly after this response, Mr. Mikoyan was reminded by another journalist that the Jewish Labor Committee had left a memorandum for him yesterday at the headquarters of the USSR delegation to the United Nations, referring specifically to the liquidation and the killing of Jewish writers. Mr. Mikoyan’s reply was:
“I am not acquainted with these persons and I cannot comment on the authors of this memorandum. You call them a labor committee; I do not hear anything that smacks of labor in what they have to say. In my country all peoples enjoy freedom and the development of culture and that includes the Jews. I have many friends who are Jews. Many of our most prominent leaders, in fact, have married Jewish girls and they have excellent relations. I would say, let other have relations that are as good.”
In response to the question about Russia’s attitude toward Arab nationalism, the Soviet leader reiterated the well known Soviet attitude on that score, declaring: “We regard Arab nationalism as a progressive force designed to emancipate the Arabs from the colonial yoke which enslaved them, and to achieve independence, and bring about the flowing of Arab culture. The unity of the Arab peoples is a progressive phenomenon.”