LONDON (Aug. 22)
Dr. Nahum Goldmann, president of the World Jewish Congress, declared today that the imposition of new exit fees on educated Soviet Jews represents “not just a new form of harassment and curtailment of elementary human rights, one of which is the right to leave one’s country, (but) a measure that is particularly difficult to comprehend in Soviet terms.” Considering that the USSR “has understandably prided itself on its great progress in free education for all,” Dr. Goldmann continued, “it is a blot on this record when the right to education is exploited in order to penalize people who have availed themselves of it, as Jews have done in large numbers, and turned into an instrument to deny another of the human rights, the right of emigration.”
Meanwhile, the Board of Deputies of British Jews asked religious authorities throughout the country to conduct special High Holiday prayers to Soviet Jews and to devote their sermons to the new emigration fees. A Board spokesman told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that an emergency meeting of the Board and other organizations aiding Soviet Jewry, resolved to initiate a protest campaign against the fees.
Soviet Jewish sources reported that the first Jew to be subjected to the new educational “refunds” was Vladimir Zaslavsky of Moscow, who was told his exit visa was available but that it would cost him 15,000 rubles ($18,225). He was said to be unable to afford this sum. (In New York, unconfirmed reports said a Jewish woman with an exit visa was taken off a plane about to leave Moscow and told the new regulations applied to her.) (In New York, the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry confirmed that the new exit fees are in addition to, not in place of, the 900-ruble ($1094) visa charge.)