LONDON (Apr. 1)
The tone set in yesterday’s “debate” at the 24th Soviet Communist Party Congress in Moscow bodes ill for a liberalized Kremlin policy toward Jews and especially their emigration rights, observers here said today. If, as many believe, the Congress will determine future attitudes on Jewish emigration, the outlook points to a reversion to stricter policies and even more intensified attacks on “Zionism” by official Soviet organs. Yesterday’s Congress sessions were barred to Western newsmen. There was no radio or television coverage and Tass, the official news agency, carried only brief accounts. But enough information emerged to show that the Communist Party hierarchs, known for basically conservative views, went on a verbal rampage against the Kremlin’s ideological foes. The 5,000 delegates, including visiting Communists from all over the world, heard one speaker, Pyotr Y. Shelest, a member of the 11-man ruling Politburo and head of the Party organization in the Ukraine, warn Soviet authorities not to “put up with any fuzziness in ideology.”
Shelest warned that “the ideologists of imperialism” were waging an anti-Soviet, anti-Communist campaign. Viktor V. Grishin, head of the Moscow regional party unit, charged that “imperialist propaganda” was trying to undermine the Soviet people, especially the youth with “bourgeois ideology and morals.” Apparently no direct references were made to “Zionism,” but Zionist ideology is high on the list of what the Soviet Communist Party regards as “bourgeois pollution.” The main thrust of the Party ideologues was directed against Soviet intellectuals and other dissenters who have become more outspoken in recent years and whose writings have been published in the West. The courage shown by Soviet Jews recently in face of considerable personal risk, has undoubtedly had an effect on other Soviet dissenters, observers believe. Therefore, they believe, Soviet authorities may fool obliged to crack down on the Jews lest the floodgates of dissent be opened all over the Soviet Union. They fear that, with the Party veering toward more rigid ideological conformity, new restrictions will be placed on Jewish departures once the Congress has adjourned.