NEW YORK (Jan. 31)
The special committee set up by visa authorities a few months ago in Moscow to review individual cases of requests for emigration has begun to function again, now that the exit tax edict has been publicly clarified, it was reported today by the National Conference on Soviet Jewry. In Moscow, prominent Soviet Jews, such as Prof. Alexander Lerner, Prof. Benjamin Levich and Lev Libow have been refused permission again by the special committee, and told not to re-apply with in the next year. The reason given to them was that “state matters are involved.” Alexander Slepak, son of Vladimir Slepak, was also denied permission to emigrate, but was not prevented from re-applying.
According to reports from Moscow, several families who had received permission to emigrate are stranded in the Soviet capital because they cannot pay the exit fees. The Kotick family had made preparations to leave the Soviet Union two months ago, and now cannot pay the diploma tax and do not have permission to stay in Moscow. Mrs. Kotick, in her ninth month of pregnancy, had requested permission to leave by herself for Israel, where her mother resides. This was denied. Her exit fee is 7000 rubles. In line with the new regulations, her husband’s fee was reduced from 23,000 rubles to 20,300.
In a separate development. Richard Maass, chairman of the NCSJ, expressed growing alarm about the preparation of new trials against Soviet Jews. In Minsk and Vilna, Jews have been rounded up by the KGB and attempts have been made to force them, through intimidation, to confess to belonging to an alleged “secret organization.” This organization would of course, be illegal under Soviet law. Those Soviet Jews called in to the KGB have denied these accusations, or the existence of any such group, but have expressed great fear for the future, Maass reported.