16 Families Unexpectedly Receive Visas

Sixteen Jewish families in Moscow unexpectedly received exit visas yesterday and were exempted from paying the education head tax, it was learned today from Jewish sources in the Soviet Union. According to the report, the families were warned to leave the USSR by Nov. 5 because “there might be important changes” after Nov. 7, the date of the American Presidential elections.

The informants in Moscow said the issuance of the visas yesterday came as a surprise because the ovir (visa office) is not normally open on Saturday and no Jews had been ordered to report. But Jews who visited the ovir Friday were said to have been given the names of the 16 slated to receive exit visas. Yesterday the families were called to the ovir and issued their visas within 20 minutes.

Five families exempted from the exit tax arrived here this morning in a planeload of immigrants from the USSR. The arrivals also included some families that had paid the tax. Four of the exempted families were from Moscow and one from Leningrad.

On Friday, four Soviet Jewish academicians who were exempted from the education exit tax arrived in Israel as part of a large group of Soviet emigrants. The newcomers included the world-famous hydrodynamics expert, Prof. Herman Branover of Riga, a Chabad hassid who had to pay 31,000 rubles ($38,750) to get his exit visa. The four who were exempted were Semin Gelkin, a film director; Yepim Manievitz, an electrical engineer; Nataly Brun, a mathematician; and Vladimir Zladslavski, an engineer. They said that while they had not been required to pay the “diploma” tax, they doubted that Soviet authorities intended to abrogate the tax.

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