State Department Report Says Soviet Compliance with Helsinki Accords Remains ‘seriously Flawed’
Menu JTA Search

State Department Report Says Soviet Compliance with Helsinki Accords Remains ‘seriously Flawed’

Download PDF for this date

The compliance by the Soviet Union and Soviet Bloc countries with the human rights provisions of the Helsinki Accords remains “seriously flawed,” State Department spokesman Charles Redman said Wednesday.

Redman gave this assessment as the State Department released the 21st Semi-annual Report on the Implementation of the Helsinki Final Act. The report, which covers the period April 1-October 1, 1986, was submitted to Sen. Alfonse D’Amato (R. NY), chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, which monitors compliance with the accord.

“The overall record of compliance of the Warsaw Pact nations with their CSCE (Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe) commitments remained seriously flawed,” the report stated. “Although some positive steps were taken by these governments, the status of implementation over the current reporting period did not change significantly from earlier periods.”

The report listed as positive steps the emigration of Anatoly Shcharansky’s mother and brother to Israel and a decision to allow the emigration to the United States of 65 divided families. “By the end of the reporting period, however, roughly half of these had not yet received their exit documentation,” it was noted.


Specifically dealing with the issue of Soviet Jews, the report declares that they “have suffered particularly severe treatment over the last several years with arrests, trials and convictions of many Jews, especially those who actively pursue their own religious and cultural traditions.

“Moscow Hebrew teacher Aleksei Magarik, who was arrested in March at Tbilisi Airport allegedly in possession of hashish, was sentenced on June 9 to three years in a labor camp.

“Moscow Hebrew teacher and labor camp inmate Yuli Edelshtein, who suffered a broken leg and torn urethra in a February fall, and who had long been refused treatment in a regular hospital, was finally operated on in July and is slowly recovering.

“Moscow Hebrew teacher Iosif Begun has been denied visits by his wife and son for more than one year, and the authorities refuse to forward his letters to his family.

“Leningrad Hebrew teacher Vladimir Lifshits, who was sentenced to three years in a labor camp for ‘anti-Soviet slander,’ has suffered a serious deterioration in his health due to harsh prison conditions.” During the six months covered by the report no other Hebrew teachers were arrested. But the report notes that information is “beginning to surface of a crackdown on several Jewish activists in the Ukrainian city of Cherkassy. A ritual bath (mikva) in Moscow’s Marina Roscha Synagogue was reportedly destroyed by the Soviet authorities on September 9.”

The report said that Jewish refuseniks continue to be harassed. Leningrad refuseniks Boris and Margarita Yelkin and Yevgeni Leyn were detained by the militia for several hours after a reception at the (U.S.) consulate in July,” the report said.

“Six other Leningrad Jews were detained in April while on their way to a private exhibition of Jewish art. Periodic interruption of telephone service, occasional house arrest and frequent detention by the militia for several hours, ostensibly for document checks, continue to be common forms of harassment.”


The other Soviet bloc country in which Jews were the victims of human rights violations was Rumania, according to the report.

During the period covered by the report, “an historic and unique synagogue and a major Jewish community facility — an old-age home housing some 80 persons — were abruptly demolished to make way for urban renewal, despite earlier government assurances to the contrary,” the report said. “These actions led to considerable Western concern regarding the fate of other important Jewish facilities in Rumania.”

The report added that “the Jewish community was also disturbed by an article seeking to show that the 1941 pogrom in Iassi, in which many thousands died, was an event of only minor significance and one for which Rumanian authorities bore no responsibility. The Jewish community has protested vigorously, fearing this incident might foreshadow the reemergence of anti-Semitism in Rumanian publications.

The State Department stressed that the United States delegates to the CSCE follow-up meeting, now going on in Vienna, “have highlighted Soviet and East European compliance failures.”

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund