LONDON (Jun. 19)
A series of attacks on British Jews visiting the Soviet Union has sparked a bitter diplomatic now between the two countries. Nikolai Lunkov, the Soviet Ambassador, was called to the Foreign Office Tuesday and told of an organized KGB campaign of “assault, intimidation and harassment” against British tourists.
The Soviet Embassy said yesterday that Britain’s protest was part of its campaign against the Moscow Olympics and an attempt to intimidate would-be visitors to the Games. It denied there was a campaign against Jewish tourists and replied that Moscow and Leningrad were no different from London where certain parts of the city are unsafe.
In fact, Jewish communal circles here had been buzzing for months with reports of attacks on British visitors to the Soviet Union who were trying to maintain contact with Jewish “refusniks” there. The attackers were always in plainclothes, but the victims had no doubt that they were secret policemen rather than private individuals.
Among those attacked were a London doctor, Michael Herz, and Peter Fischer. During a visit to Leningrad in March, they were beaten up on the street by 10 people after visiting a refusnik’s apartment and on the advice of British diplomats they cut their Soviet visit short. Also in Leningrad, two young women tourists from Manchester were attacked and robbed of their handbags.
Victims of official harassment include Mr. and Mrs. Wally Simpson of North London. During a visit to Kiev, they contacted a refusnik family, the Oleiniks, and were later held by the KGB for three hours and accused of trying to sell jeans and perfume. On May 2, Gerry Fyne was detained at Moscow Airport where officials confiscated some Hebrew literature and other documents. Another London couple, Harry and Sheila Davies, who visited Russia in March, said they were both constantly followed, were searched at the airport and had blank tapes and film confiscated.