NEW YORK (Dec. 27)
The Greater New York Conference on Soviet Jewry (GNYCSJ) today announced that 1,307 Jews will have emigrated from the Soviet Union by the end of 1983, the lowest number in 20 years.
At a press conference in the Roosevelt Hotel, Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs Elliott Abrams announced that as of December 22, only 1,284 Soviet Jews were granted emigration visas. Abrams pointed out that this represents a drop of 98 percent from 1979, when 51,320 Jews were allowed to emigrate. Herbert Kronish, GNYCSJ chairman, projected the 1983 emigration total of 1,307 based on the numbers released by Abrams.
Abrams said that this “drastic decline in Jewish emigration is clearly the result of deliberate Soviet policy and not the consequence of a steep decline in applications. There are hundreds of thousands of Soviet Jews who would leave the USSR if they were free to emigrate. Yet Soviet authorities now publicly proclaim that the Jewish emigration question has been solved, and that there are no longer any Jewish refuseniks in the Soviet Union.”
‘AN UNMITIGATED ACT OF EVIL’
Abrams pointed to alarming reports of anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union, stating: “The Jewish community in the Soviet Union was targeted for annihilation by both the Nazis and Stalin. For it now to be subjected to renewed anti-Semitism, persecution and abuse is indeed an unmitigated act of evil and deserves to be condemned as such.”
Kronish, in releasing the GNYCSJ status report entitled “Soviet Jewry: The Realities in 1983,” declared: “Not only have the Soviets virtually barred its doors preventing hundreds of thousands of Jews from emigrating, but under the leadership of Andropov, they have proceeded to deal even more harshly with the Soviet Jewish population. At the current rate, the last of the more than 400,000 Jews now in the process of seeking to leave the Soviet Union can expect to see freedom three centuries from now.”
The Soviet Anti-Zionist Committee, formed in 1983, “has viciously mocked the hopes of more than 20,000 refuseniks by announcing that ‘almost all of the Soviet Jews who wanted to leave have left.’ I have met with many Soviet Jewish refuseniks, some who have been waiting to emigrate for 10 or 15 years. This claim of the Anti-Zionist Committee is a blatant lie,” declared Kronish, as he held two thick computer lists containing the names of over 20,000 Jews who have been officially denied permission to leave the USSR.
HEALTH OF POCS DETERIORATING
According to the GNYCSJ, the situation for Soviet Jewish Prisoners of Conscience, of whom there are currently 19, has seriously deteriorated. Anatoly Shcharansky, who began this year on a hunger strike in Chistopol Prison protesting his total isolation from family and friends, is suffering from a serious heart problem which requires urgent medical attention.
His mother in Moscow received a letter from him this month in which he described the chronic pain in his heart. He has been cruelly denied the medical attention he has requested and there is reason to fear for his life if he does not receive appropriate medical care immediately. Aleksandar Paritsky, Feliks Kochubievsky, and several other Prisoners of Conscience are also seriously ill. Paritsky, who has a heart condition, and Kochubievsky, who suffers from serious kidney problems, are both in almost constant pain.