Report USSR Intensifies Campaign to Curtail Informal Contacts Between Soviet Citizens and Foreigners

The recently intensified Soviet campaign to curtail informal contacts between Soviet citizens and foreigners was highlighted by several incidents this month. These were summarized in the monthly digest on monitoring activites issued by the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE).

As examples of the Soviet Union’s stepped-up campaign, the digest cited the detainment of former Israeli President Ephraim Katzir by the Leningrad KGB on July 1, the detainment of U.S. diplomats Jon Purnell and George Glass for two hours by the Moscow KGB on July 4, and the refusal by Soviet authorities to grant Soviet citizens who are married to Americans the right to emigrate.

The digest quoted Katzir’s Paris news conference after the incident in which he stated he had been “subjected to some pretty tough questions” during the 1-1/2 hours he and his wife were detained. Katzir said that after three KGB agents blocked his attempt to visit a Soviet Jews, they took him to an office where they questioned him about his movements in the Soviet Union. Katzir stated he was “deeply offended” by this incident and noted that the KGB officers knew he had been President of Israel.

The report explained that the July 4 incident occurred when the two U.S. diplomats tried to meet with Lina Tumanova, a Moscow human rights activist with whom they had been in contact. All three were surrounded by Soviet security agents after the Soviet citizen had given the diplomats several documents. Tumanova was later apparently arrested to be “called to account in accordance with Soviet laws,” according to the Soviet News agency, Tass.

The CSCE report added that dissident sources afterwards told The Los Angeles Times that Tumanova had been active in Moscow for a number of years in human rights groups which the KGB had attempted to suppress. Soviet emigres in the U.S. reported that Tumanova was active in signing open letters in support of various political prisoners, particularly from the Ukraine.

The report also stated, “The July 4 incident is the latest in a series of occurrences in which American officials have been detained or harassed because of their unofficial contacts with Soviet citizens. In April, for example, Ronald Harms was roughed up by unidentified individuals as he left a restaurant. The State Department condemned this latest incident and charged that it was part of a stepped-up effort by Soviet authorities to ‘isolate their people from foreign contacts and to repress legitimate expression of differing political and social views’.”

The report concludes that “clearly, another reason behind the (July 4) incident is a continuing effort to stem the flow of samizdat documents to the West.”

NEW SOVIET LAW CITED

Further evidence of the official Soviet campaign to discourage unofficial contacts between Soviet citizens and foreigners can be found in a new Soviet law which went into effect on July 1, and was published in the Bulletin of the Supreme Soviet on May 30. This law provides for fines of up to 50 Rubles for citizens who provide transportation, housing or “other services” to foreigners “privately.”

Fines also can be levied against those who do not make sure that foreigners follow registration procedures with the local police. The law states that officials in organizations which deal with foreigners are also liable for fines up to 100 Rubles. Furthermore, both officials and citizens may be tried on criminal charges for contacts with foreigners if they violate “existing legislation.” Precisely what that other legislation specifies is not clarified in any way, the CSCE report stated.

Several cases regarding reunification of Soviet citizens married to Americans were also mentioned in the digest: Moscow scientist Matvey Finkel, married to Susan Graham of Spokane, Wash., has just received his eighth exit denial; Ukrainian Aleksei Lodisev has been trying since April 1981 to get permission to join his wife. Sandra Gubin; and Roman Kuperman, married to Chicago lawyer Fern Pergericht, has been repeatedly denied an exit visa because his departure is considered to be “undesirable” by the state.

The CSCE report declared: “The denial of permission to emigrate in such cases is not only against humanitarian principles, but it is contray to both the letter of the Helsinki Final Act in which the Soviet Union and the other signatories pledged to deal ‘favorably’ with cases involving family reunification and marriage between citizens of different states.”

NEXT STORY