PARIS (Feb. 29)
A Soviet delegation which includes three prominent Jews, has postponed a good-will visit to France scheduled to take place this month, it was learned today. The purpose of the visit is believed to be to improve the image of Soviet-Jewish relations. Its postponement was interpreted in some circles here as a possible sign of a stiffening of the Soviet position toward Jews seeking exit visas to go to Israel, or, at least, a sign that a debate is taking place on this subject within the Soviet establishment. The tentative new date for the visit was announced as “during April, 1972.”
Daniel Meyer, president of the French chapter of the League for Human Rights, sent a letter of protest to Soviet Minister of Interior over the “threats proffered against Vladimir Slepak which foreshadow a new campaign against those Jews who wish to leave the Soviet Union for Israel, as well as new arrests and trials.” Slepak, a scientist and Jewish activist in Moscow, may be facing a charge of “parasitism” because he refused to accept a menial job in a concrete factory. If convicted he faces a jail term of up to one year.
(Reports received yesterday in London from Jewish sources in the USSR said that Soviet authorities have opened a new drive against Jews applying for exit visas. According to the sources raids and searches of Jewish homes and arrests have occurred and a new series of anti-Zionist trials is feared.)