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Pincus: No Information That Soviet Head Tax Has Been Waived Generally

Louis Pincus, chairman of the Jewish Agency Executive, said today that he had “no information” that the Soviet Union’s education tax “had been waived for Jewish applicants for exit visas in a general way,” He added, however, that “it may be that there is the inevitable time lag between the initiation of a new policy and its application by the bureaucrats.”

Pincus made his statement to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency when he was asked to comment on reports that the education tax has been waived in a number of cases and that its collection may have been suspended. “We have had repeated reports about a so-called improvement in the situation but such improvements can only be judged when borne out in fact,” he said, “Our past experience makes one rather reluctant in his assessment of reported improvements in the Jewish situation in the Soviet Union.”

STILL HARASSED AND IMPRISONED

The Jewish Agency chairman who is attending meetings of the Conference of Jewish Organizations (COJO) here recalled a recent statement by Soviet Interior Minister Horis Shumilin that it was not against Soviet law-for people to ask for permission to emigrate. “Nevertheless,” Pincus said, “people in the Soviet Union are still being harassed after having applied for exit visas; people in the Soviet Union are still languishing in prisons and forced labor camps, although their only crime was to want to leave the Soviet Union for Israel.”

Pincus said “One thing is certain–and we have had it confirmed in the last few days in various ways–the Soviet regime is rather sensitive to world public opinion. I hope that Jewish activities on behalf of Soviet Jews will not relax.” He added that “If there is any substance to the reports about an improvement in the situation, we will soon be able to know about it. We will soon see whether Jews in the Soviet Union can leave without being asked to pay this ransom tax. At the moment we have no in formation that this tax has been waived.”

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