WASHINGTON (Jun. 19)
Soviet Communist Party Secretary Leonid I. Brezhnev this afternoon devoted a large part of his meeting with key members of the U.S. Congress to the Jewish question. The Soviet leader is reported to have recited at length figures and facts on Jewish emigration from the Soviet Union to the 23 lawmakers whom he entertained at lunch at Blair House, the official residence for foreign Heads of State.
Brezhnev apparently regarded his meeting with the American legislators, some of whom vehemently support the Jackson amendment, as sufficiently important to keep President Nixon waiting for 90 minutes at the White House for their second round of talks.
Lawmakers emerging from the meeting appeared impressed with the Soviet leader’s presentation. While those supporting the Jackson amendment made it clear that they were not abandoning their support, they indicated that they will have to reconsider the facts.
Those attending the luncheon were the 15 members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, six other Senators, including the Majority and the Minority leaders and two members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Some of the figures cited by Brezhnev were provided to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency by Sen. Hubert H. Humphrey (D. Minn.). According to Humphrey. Brezhnev said that as of Jan. 1, 1973, 68,000 Jews had left the Soviet Union out of a total Jewish population of 2,151,000.
Brezhnev said, according to Sen. Humphrey, that 61,000 applications for exit visas were filed by Jews since the beginning of 1972 and that of these 60,200 were granted. He said that 11,400 applications were filed since the beginning of 1973 of which 10,100 were granted. Humphrey said that Brezhnev told the Senators that 1300 applicants changed their minds about leaving Russia and that Soviet authorities have received 300 applications from former Soviet citizens who have left and now want to return.
Brezhnev also said, Humphrey reported, that 738 applicants were denied visas earlier this year but that 258 of them were granted visas just before he left for Washington.
Senators emerging from Blair House told reporters that the Soviet leader was not irritated by questions relating to Jewish emigration and replied to them in a straightforward manner. They said. Brezhnev told them he had told President Nixon that the education tax no longer applies except to young people who received Soviet government scholarships and have not yet worked.