Soviet Jewish Emigration ‘remains at a Stagnant Low’

Only 914 Soviet Jews were permitted to leave in 1986, a 20 percent drop from the 1,140 Jews who were permitted to leave in 1985, according to figures released Wednesday by the National Conference on Soviet Jewry. The 1986 figure was 98 percent below the high-water mark of 1979 when Jewish emigration was 51,320.

Emigration requests last year by long-term refuseniks and released Prisoners of Conscience were repeatedly denied, the NCSJ report stated.

In November, the Soviet Union further impeded the emigration process by issuing a new decree codifying emigration, purportedly a liberalizing document, but actually one which tightened restrictions, the report added.

It maintained that despite Soviet gestures in high visibility cases, such as those of Anatoly Shcharansky and David Goldfarb, “Jewish emigration remains at a stagnant low.”

While the release of Shcharansky in February, and Goldfarb in October, generated “great rejoicing” in the Jewish community, there is “justified apprehension concerning the situation of thousands of other Jews,” according to the NCSJ, including 11,000 known refuseniks and 14 Prisoners of Conscience.

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