Canadian Minister Challenges Soviet Deputy Premier on Jews in Russia

Soviet Deputy Premier Dmitri Polyansky and Ontario Minister of Reform Institutions (prisons and reformatories) Allan Grossman became involved in a heated argument on the situation of Soviet Jewry at a dinner given here for the visiting Soviet Parliamentary delegation by the Ontario Parliament.

Mr. Polyansky who is visiting Canada in connection with Canada’s recent wheat sale to the Soviet Union, urged at the dinner that freedom be given to the people of Viet Nam. Mr. Grossman suggested that freedom be given to Jews in the Soviet Union. He pointed out that Soviet Jewry is subject to restrictions in religion and customs.

The Soviet Deputy Premier retorted through an interpreter that there are Jews in the Soviet hierarchy, Mr. Polyansky snapped: “It is not the hierarchy I am talking about, it is the common people.” The Deputy Premier then said that Jews in the USSR can worship in their synagogues, “eat their matzoh” and occupy prominent positions in science and other professions. At one point, Mr. Polyansky told Mr. Grossman he was not sufficiently informed to discuss the subject. Mr. Grossman retorted, “Don’t get excited – don’t get rattled. ” He told Mr. Polyansky that Canadians are concerned about the position of Jews and other minority groups in Russia.

The incident climaxed an evening of jovial back-slapping and hand-shaking as the Soviet delegation met members of Parliament and diplomats. During the dinner, Premier Robarts said he had enjoyed the quick wit and rapid rejoinders of Mr. Polyansky and was delighted with the opportunity to sit down and exchange ideas.

NEXT STORY