Menu JTA Search

American-jewish Tourists Tell of Their Ouster from USSR

Two American Jewish tourists who arrived here from the Soviet Union told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today that they were ousted by Soviet authorities and forced to leave the USSR four days before their 22-day tour was to end. Irving Silverman, 51, of Roslyn, N.Y., publisher of “The Knitting Times,” and Leonard Shuster, 35, a businessman from Winnwood, Fa., said they were accused by Soviet authorities of “anti-Soviet activities” but were not permitted to confront their accusers. They said they had visited Moscow, Tbilisi, Yalta, Odessa and Kiev and were about to go to Leningrad when they were summoned to the Intourist office in Kiev and ordered to leave the country although their wives could remain. Their wives left with them.

Silverman said, “We met with a Mr. Ivikien, deputy manager of Intourist for Kiev who read a statement accusing us of anti-Soviet activities, which he qualified as ‘heavy involvement with Soviet citizens and the distribution of anti-Soviet literature.'” Silverman said he and Shuster denied the charges categorically. “However, we did admit speaking with citizens, Jews and non-Jews alike,” he said, “but we asserted that it was mainly at the insistence of those people themselves who wanted to know more about the United States.” The two Americans said they had visited the synagogue in Moscow where they found very few people, mainly elderly. In contrast, they reported the synagogue in Tbilisi, in the Georgian Republic. “packed with over 700 people, about a third of them under the age of 20.” Shuster said they found copies of anti-Zionist books and pamphlets in English in Soviet bookstores that cater to tourists. Silverman said he went to Russia because he wanted to see the country and exchange information on textile technology. Silverman and Shuster said they arrived in the USSR with their wives on July 3 and were traveling with two other Jewish couples and a non-Jewish couple.

NEXT STORY