WASHINGTON (Jan. 27)
The State Department said today that, having consulted with the Lindsay Administration in New York City, it would take “all possible measures” to prevent disruption of the performances of the Siberian Dancers and Singers of Omsk, who begin a 12-show run at New York’s Carnegie Hall tomorrow night. In a voluntary verbal statement to newsmen, State Department spokesman Robert J. McCloskey said the government would be on guard against the “irresponsible elements which previously committed misdemeanors and acts of violence against Soviet activities, installations and personnel.” McCloskey declined to mention any specific groups, He added that “We again condemn and deplore such activities, which are contrary to the basic tenets of American hospitality, and any harm brought to our relations (with the Soviet Union) by those irresponsible elements.” McCloskey said he was announcing governmental presence at Carnegie Hall “in the hope that these groups won’t be tantalized to disrupt these performances.” The Siberian troupe’s appearances, its first in the United States, are being advertised as “an official presentation under the U.S.A. -U.S.S.R. cultural exchange agreement.”
(Lawrence Fine, executive director of the Jewish Defense League, which has denied complicity in previous anti-Soviet violence but has endorsed it, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in New York today that the JDL had decided not to stage demonstrations at Carnegie Hall, but that individual members were on their own. He said JDL was deferring to the demonstration plans of Student Activists for Soviet Jewry, a Brooklyn-based collegiate group formed in December that claims the support of 750-800 persons. Yossi Templeman, a student at the City University Graduate School and chairman of the student group, told the JTA that the group had been formed as a “compromise” between the JDL and the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry, which opposes physical harassment. Templeman, who was making temporary use of the JDL office telephones, estimated that 10 percent of his supporters were also JDL members. He called Student Activists a “non-violent group” that was nonetheless willing to engage in actions “which may seem to be of questionable legality.” He declined to specify what actions his activists would take tomorrow night other than to picket and to distribute leaflets bearing the slogan “A Time to Do” and urging passersby not to enter Carnegie Hall. Glenn Richter, national coordinator of the SSSJ, told the JTA today that members of his group, including a person in a bear suit, would be outside the auditorium “yelling and screaming” for an end to Soviet anti-Semitism.)
McCloskey, noting that the USSR had last month canceled scheduled American appearances by the Bolshoi Ballet, said there had been peaceful picketing of the Omak troupe at its recent pre-New York appearances in Storrs, Conn. He said there had also been peaceful picketing at the recent New York recital of violinist Leonid Kogan and at the recent Buffalo, N.Y. appearance of violinist Igor Oistrakh (although a stink bomb was thrown during the former event.) Both artists are Soviet Jews, McCloskey said the only other Soviet performer in the U.S. at this time is planist Grigory Sokolov, and that an upcoming appearance by cellist Mstislav Rostropovich had not been canceled. McCloskey added that the State Department remained unsatisfied with the extent of protection of American personnel in the USSR. He disclosed that another American, James Pipert of the Associated Press, had been roughed up in that country.