LONDON (Feb. 5)
Soviet authorities have reduced the travel tax levied on emigrants from 900 to 800 rubles per person but have imposed a new tax on books taken out of the country, Jewish sources in the Soviet Union reported today. The sources said the lower travel tax was apparently a propaganda ploy while the duty on books imposes a special hardship on Jewish emigrants, most of whom wish to take books with them to Israel.
As a result, Jews leaving the USSR pay more despite the 100 ruble cut in the travel tax, the sources said. They saw the cut, moreover, as one of several propaganda moves the Soviet authorities were taking in connection with the Second World Conference on Soviet Jewry to be held in Brussels Feb. 17-19.
Meanwhile “Helsinki” watchdog committees on behalf of Soviet Jews have been created in 15 cities and towns in Britain and Ireland to monitor Soviet adherence to the agreement on security and cooperation they signed at Helsinki last year. The committees, organized by the Womens Campaign for Soviet Jewry, will report all violations to the British and Irish governments. Committee volunteers include members of Parliament, trade unionists, religious leaders and lawyers.
The watchdog committees also intend to dispute the reasons given by Soviet authorities for refusing visas to 100 Jewish families who have applied for them since 1970.