WASHINGTON (Jun. 19)
Soviet leaders and top aides now in Washington have publicly taken a firm line against softening Soviet emigration policy in return for most favored nation treatment in trade with the United States.
Communist Party Secretary Leonid I. Brezhnev personally gave this indication last night when questioned by a Jewish Telegraphic Agency correspondent at the White House dinner. The Soviet leader, who was chatting briefly with reporters, replied when questioned about the Mills-Vanik bill “hardly any compromise is necessary. All that is necessary is a plain decision. This(most favored nation treatment is an idea in the interests of both.” (U.S. and the Soviet Union). At that point aides urged Brezhnev away before the JTA could follow-up with further questions.
Earlier in the day. Leonid Zamyatin, spokesman for the Brezhnev party, declared “trade cannot be conducted on a basis of discrimination.” Other Soviet officials questioned by the JTA at the White House dinner responded with similar statements.
Alexander Yefstafyev, the Soviet Embassy Press Counsellor, vehemently denounced Soviet Jewish efforts to emigrate. “We regard those who want to leave our country as traitors,” he said. He called Prof. Benjamin Levich, a Soviet scientist who has applied for permission to emigrate, a “louse” for “spreading lies about us.”
Among those who attended the White House dinner last night were two prominent members of the American Jewish community, Jacob Stein and Max Fisher. They both met briefly with Brezhnev and later indicated optimism that the Nixon-Brezhnev summit conference may ultimately yield results beneficial to Soviet Jewry.
Stein said he did not know of any meeting by a Jewish group with Brezhnev. fisher, long a leader of the Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds, said a meeting was “being worked for.”
VIGIL FORCED TO END
Brezhnev’s stay in Washington has given rise to some of the strictest security measures yet seen in the federal capital. Some of these measures, such as the police closure of traffic on the street on which the Soviet Embassy is located, have forced the suspension of the daily vigil that has been maintained by Jews without interruption for the last
The barricades, which bar vehicles and limit pedestrian access to the street were up last Sunday when Brant Coopersmith, regional-director of the American Jewish Committee and one of the originators of the vigil arrived on the scene with several other participants. They were told by secret service and metropolitan police officers on duty that the block was closed to all but residents and persons who could show they had business there.
Jewish circles here expect the ban to be lifted after the visit of Soviet Communist Party Secretary Leonid I. Brezhnev. They believe the show of police strength at the Embassy and at the White House and its environs during last Sunday’s Freedom Assembly for Soviet Jews was intended as much to satisfy Soviet authorities as to forestall any demonstrations.
The vigil outside the Embassy had been going on daily for 15 minutes. Except for prayers, it was a silent demonstration in which only small groups of people participated. No vigil has been held for the past three days. But several Washington area rabbis and others have appeared daily to pray in front of the police barricades at the head of the Embassy block.