LONDON (Mar. 3)
In an unprecedented move indicating to experts here the extreme sensitivity of highest Soviet authorities to Western criticisms of the USSR’s policy of anti-Semitism, Moscow’s two leading newspapers this weekend printed in full the exchange of letters on the Russian-Jewish problem between Lord Bertrand Russell, the British philosopher, and Prime Minister Nikita S. Khrushchev.
Both Pravda, the official organ of the Communist Party of the USSR, and Izvestia, the official organ of the USSR Government, printed Lord Russell’s letter seeking clemency for Jewish victims sentenced to death during the Soviet Union’s recent wave of “economic crime” show trials, Mr. Khrushchev’s reply cited the Soviet constitutional guarantees of freedom for all religious “cults, ” insisting that Jews and others who had been sentenced to death were punished only because they were “economic criminals. “
Soviet sensitivity on the issue was seen here as illustrated in another example. Yesterday’s “Daily Mail” carried a two-page advertisement, paid for by the Russian authorities, reporting the full text of Mr. Khrushchev’s speech at an election meeting last week. In that text, the Premier was quoted as referring to the main subject on which he touched in his reply to Lord Russell. Mr. Khrushchev mentioned that he had received a letter from a Soviet citizen in Turkmenia, asking him to intercede in the case of a person sentenced to death for an “economic crime. ” His reply was that he could do nothing in the matter because the judgment against the criminal had been just.
(In Rome, this weekend, Alexei Adjubei, editor of Izvestia, and son-in-law of Mr. Khrushchev, stated at a press conference, as the Premier had in his letter to Lord Russell, that “anti-Semitism is absent in Russia. ” He sought to prove this “fact” by listing names of Jews who were his own colleagues and mentioning other leading Soviet personalities who, he said, were Jewish.)