Menu JTA Search

U.S. Congressional Group Believes Helsinki Accord Has Productive Effect on East-west Relations

SIGN UP FOR THE JTA DAILY BRIEFING

Despite their being refused entry to the Soviet Union and its satellites to study implementation of the Helsinki Accord, a group of U.S. Congressmen declared here yesterday that the Helsinki Accord was beginning to have a productive, though still limited effect on the improvement of East-West relations.

However, they told a press conference at the U.S. Embassy that while practices in some countries had become more lenient, procedures for emigration to reunite divided families–not to speak of ordinary travel or tourism–have not markedly altered. The speakers, members of a study mission to Europe, were Sen, Claiborne Pell (D.RI) and four members of the House of Representatives: Jonathan Bingham (D.NY); Dante B. Fascell (D.Fla.); Mrs. Millicent Fenwick (R.NJ); and Paul Simon (D.Ill.),

Asked by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency whether the Helsinki Accord had eased the flow of Jewish emigrants, Rep. Fenwick said that there seemed to be a steady flow, suggesting that there might be a quota on the volume of people allowed to leave. She also claimed that it was no longer necessary to acquire a "characteristika"–a character reference from an employee-in order to obtain a visa.

She agreed that leading "refuseniks" like Profs. Lerner, Levich and Azbel were still banned from leaving. However, she pointed to the emigration of Prof. Anatoly Rubin, an expert on ancient Chinese philosophy: She said that "in August, 1975, I was told it was impossible to mention his name to the Russians."

CONFIDENT OF CARTER’S SUPPORT

Although unable to visit the Eastern bloc, the Congressional study mission had visited 17 non-Communist countries in Europe as well as Yugoslavia. They spoke to many refugees from the Eastern bloc in Vienna, where they met Jews who had just arrived from the Soviet Union, and officials of the Jewish Agency and HIAS.

Fascell, chairman of the mission, said he was confident in assuming that President-elect Jimmy Carter would support the Helsinki Accord "as long as implementation is part of the process, and with human rights right at the top."

The Soviet Union’s refusal to permit the study mission to visit its territory was "contrary to the whole concept of Helsinki," he said. He was noncommittal about a suggestion that the mission had been barred because the Soviet authorities feared it would seek to consult with the unofficial Soviet Helsinki "watch-dog" group set up under Prof. Yuri Orlov, a non-Jewish Soviet dissident. Rep. Fenwick pointed out that she and some of her colleagues on the study mission had been attacked as "enemies of detente" in the Communist bloc press.

REFUSENIKS ENCOUNTERING DIFFICULTIES

Meanwhile, it has been reported that Jewish refuseniks in several Soviet cities are encountering difficulty in obtaining medical prescriptions from pharmacies and believe that this marks a new form of pressure against them. Dr. Ernest M. Axelrod, a Moscow psychiatrist, told this to two visitors from Britain last week, requesting that they should make it known in the West. But he did not want drugs to be sent from abroad.

Axelrod, himself a refusenik, heard about the difficulties in obtaining vitamin pills and anti-depressant and blood pressure pills during visits to Jewish families in Kaunas, Vilnius, Kiev and Kaliningrad. According to the visitors, George Evnine and Israel Medad, refuseniks have set up their own informal medical service, which among other things, sends supplies to Prisoners of Zion. Evnine and Medad are leaders of British Herut.

NEXT STORY