London (Jan. 13)
– The Soviet Ambassador to London, Viktor Popov, today refused to receive a former British Foreign Office minister who asked to see him about the case of missing Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg. An official came to the gates of the Embassy to tell Conservative Member of Parliament Peter Thomas that the Ambassador was “a very busy man” and had no time to see him.
Thomas and Labor MP Greville Janner, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, had sought the meeting on the eve of tomorrow’s international hearing on the Wallenberg case in Stockholm. Wallenberg, who saved thousands of Jews in war-time Hungary, is believed by his family to be a political prisoner in the Soviet Union despite Moscow’s claims that he died there in 1947.
Thomas told journalists that the Ambassador, who has only recently arrived, was guilty of “gross discourtesy” in refusing to see a delegation of the Wallenberg Committee led by him and Janner.
PETITION ALSO REFUSED
The Embassy also refused to accept a petition bearing nearly 15,000 signatures asking Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev to reopen inquiries into the fate of Wallenberg who, if alive, would now by 68 years old.
However it did accept two letters. One was addressed to Brezhnev from the Wallenberg Committee of which Janner is co-chairman with Winston Churchill MP, grandson of Britain’s war-time Prime Minister. The other, addressed to the Soviet Ambassador, was from Lord Fenner Rockway, a leading Socialist member of the Upper House.
The delegation also included Hungarian Jews whom Wallenberg had saved form the death camps and Leonard Goss, a director of the British Council of Christians and Jews, which helped to organize the petition.
In Stockholm tomorrow, Janner will be joined by Maurice Samuelson, a member of the International Working Group for Raoul Wallenburg, as well as war crimes investigator Simon Wiesenthal, former Israeli Attorney General Gideon Hausner, and Elie Wiesel, chairman of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council. Ingrid Gaerde Widemar, a member of Sweden’s Supreme Court, will preside at the three-day hearing.