WASHINGTON (Mar. 21)
Sen. Henry M. Jackson (D. Wash.) and Rep. Charles A. Vanik (D. Ohio) predicted today that legislation designed to free Soviet emigration will be enacted by Congress despite the hints of relaxation on restrictions coming from Soviet sources. In separate telephone comments to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the two leaders of the legislation bearing their names said that no threat is posed against the Soviet Union but they seek firm assurances that the Soviet government will live up to the Declaration of Human Rights.
“We intend to pass the amendment,” Jackson said. “There is no compromise with principle. We want to eliminate the issue as a problem.” Vanik declared “The language must go in” meaning that the legislation is to be enacted into law. “There is no threat in our legislation,” Vanik noted. “There is fear that the Soviets may be seeking to appease the Congress by changing its emigration policy now and then changing back again when the most favored nation treatment is given to it.”
The Congressional leaders were asked for their views after news reports said that the Soviet government has allowed 44 Moscow Jews with academic standing to leave for Israel without paying the education taxes. The waivers were seen “as an apparent effort to placate Congressional critics,” according to one Washington observer with close connections with Soviet Embassy officials.
Unprecedented publicity, it was reported, accompanied the waiving of the taxes: Western newsmen were invited to witness interviews between prospective emigrants and the director of the Soviet visa office, Lt. Col. Sergie Fadeyev, in Moscow. A Soviet television crew filmed the interviews.
Jackson, in speaking of the granting of visas in the past few days, declared. “It is encouraging whenever an individual is permitted to leave but these selective waivers cannot assure the Soviets will grant exit visas to the many thousands of others who wish to emigrate. That is why my amendment, which is designed to start and then to maintain a genuinely free flow of emigration, requires semi-annual Presidential reports of compliance.”
Under the amendment, the President would be required to report every six months to the Congress on the status of emigration by every country receiving most favored nation treatment from the U.S. under the pending East-West Trade Act. If the Soviet government complies with the legislation, JTA was informed, members of Congress-backing the Jackson-Mills-Vanik proposal will not make “a big deal” of the report. “A perfunctory report would be satisfactory,” JTA was told by a source intimate with the legislation.