VIENNA (Jul. 5)
Soviet Premier Alexei N. Kosygin indicated today that he has little sympathy for Russian Jews who emigrated to Israel and now want to return to the USSR. A petition for permission to return on behalf of 60 such Jews living in a Vienna slum was conveyed to the Soviet leader by Austrian Chancellor Bruno Kreisky during their four days of talks here.
Kosygin said at a news conference today that the Jewish emigrants have only themselves to blame if things go wrong and Soviet authorities refuse to permit them to return because they have become Israeli citizens. “I am familiar with this case,” he told reporters. “But we are not to blame that they are in Vienna. We have not ordered anybody out of the Soviet Union. They put themselves in this position, partly due to false propaganda (from Israel) he said.
Kosygin claimed that “many former Soviet citizens want to leave Israel and return to the Soviet Union.” Commenting on the squalid conditions in which the would be returnees are living here, he said that “some Russian Jews who emigrated live in similar bad conditions in Israel.”
REPORT 40 HAVE RETURNED
The Jews who petitioned Kosygin have also petitioned United Nations Secretary General Kurt Waldheim and a few months ago sent a plea to Soviet Communist Party Secretary Leonid I. Brezhnev. About 40 Jews who left Israel reportedly have been allowed to return to the Soviet Union so far this year.
Vienna is the principal way station for Jews leaving the Soviet Union for Israel. The Jewish Agency maintains a transit center at the heavily guarded Schoenau Castle, 20 miles south of Vienna, where the emigrants are temporarily quartered and processed before being put aboard planes for Israel. About 2500 Jews passed through Vienna each month during the first four months of this year. Their number dropped to 1500 in May and declined further during the first two weeks of June.
There are no figures on the total number of Jews who have gone back to Vienna from Israel and are seeking re-entry to Russia. The Israel government says the number is minute and says they are being used for propaganda purposes by the Soviet Union. Israeli sources described them as the “dregs” of the emigrants.
In Vienna they comprise a community with no legal status and are permitted to do only menial work. Some had been in Israel as long as four years and others for only a few months before they began arriving here in 1971. Members of the group say they were disillusioned with Israel, were unable to adjust to its free enterprise economy and objected to the emphasis on religion.