DENVER, Colo. (Nov. 25)
Members of a visiting delegation of Soviet officials responded to questions about broken promises in regard to exit visas for Jewish would – be emigrants and about officially-inspired anti-Semitic publications In the USSR by denials and warnings about interference in Soviet internal affairs, a. co-chairwoman of the Committee of Concern for Soviet – Jewry reported.
The co-chairwomen, Mrs. Lillian Hoffman and Mrs. Rhoda Friedman, were Invited by Rep. Timothy E, Wirth (D.Colo.) to a breakfast meeting with the five members of the Soviet Union’s Supreme Soviet.
During a question and answer period following a talk by Sergey Medunov, head of the delegation, and First Secretary of the Krasnodar Region Party committee, Mrs. Hoffman raised the issue of Soviet Jewish emigration. She said she referred to a recent meeting between Robert Hawke, the Australian labor leader, and Soviet officials when, she said, promises were made to release the Prisoners of Conscience and to grant visas to long – term refusniks over five years.
She said Medunov replied that there has been discussion in some Soviet circles on the matter that Soviet officials detain persons who have state secrets just as any other country would do, and that there was no truth that the prisoners were jailed for taking part in the emigration movement – as Mrs. Hoffman had suggested to him.
She said Medunov also had replied the prisoners had been guilty of criminal activities, that trials were held according to state law, that refusals were not forever and that cases would be reviewed and that prisoners eventually would get out. Medunov also replied that some persons made “the mistake” of coupling human rights with state rights and that “we do not wont interference in our internal affairs, ” a statement Mrs. Hoffman said he made very emphatically.
In the evening, State Senator Dennis Gallagher, interfaith chairman for the Committee of Concern, and his wife were hosts for a dinner for two of the Soviet officials, to which Mrs. Hoffman and Mrs. Friedman were invited as Committee of Concern leaders. The two Russians were Boris Stukalin, chairman of the State Committee on Publishing Houses, Polygraphy and Book Trade, and Aleksey Obukov, of the American Section of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. An excellent speaker in English, Obukov served as Stukalin’s translator.
CONCERN ABOUT ANTI-SEMITIC LITERATURE
Mrs. Friedman expressed deep concern over the “obvious increase” in the publication of anti-Semitic literature emanating from the Soviet Union, specifically citing several well-known anti-Jewish propagandists and their writings. She asked for an explanation of the vast distribution of such material, which she said was obviously officially endorsed despite the Soviet Union’s alleged ban on publication of “hate” material.
Stukalin responded that those writers were anti-Zionist, not anti-Semitic. Asked to define Zionism, he said it was racist, nationalistic and represented Jews who think they are superior to others. Several references were made at the dinner to Prisoners of Conscience as being criminals and reiteration by the Soviet officials that Americans should not interfere in Soviet internal affairs. The Soviet visitors said the USS did not interfere in American affairs.
Mrs. Hoffman said that while the standard Soviet party line on such issues “obviously was not changed, ” the dinner guests felt it was extremely important to have confronted the Soviet delegates on these vital issues of concern.