LONDON (Aug. 3)
The head of the all-Soviet visa and emigration office has told Prof. Aleksandr Lerner, a leader in the struggle of Soviet Jews for exit visas, that the 35-nation document signed at the Helsinki European Security Conference would not affect Soviet policy on applications for exit permits for emigration to Israel, it was reported here today from Moscow.
The Soviet official “explained” that the reference in the document toward making contacts between peoples easier and increasing freedom of movement were being achieved in the Soviet Union. He said this was being done by allowing reunion of families of Soviet Jews with their relations in Israel and by treating every application for exit “in a positive spirit.” He stressed that it could not mean free emigration for all Soviet citizens, whether Jew or non-Jew.
Soviet Jewish activists said in Moscow, according to the report, that the fact that the ovir chief had chosen to speak to Lerner so quickly after the Helsinki document had been signed did not, in itself, portend a change in the position of Soviet Jews. But the activists added that it did mean that the activist group is now accepted by Soviet authorities, even though the group may not be officially acknowledged.