WASHINGTON (Oct. 7)
Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze mingled with and spoke to more than 1,000 Uruguayan Jews demonstrating outside the Soviet Embassy in Montevideo Monday demanding full rights for Jews in the USSR, it was reported here Tuesday from the Uruguayan capital.
Shevardnadze assured them that his country has adopted a more liberal policy toward Soviet Jews, including freer emigration. He also held a street dialogue for 15 minutes with the president of the Central Committee of Uruguayan Jews, Pedro Sclossky, according to Seymour Reich, international president of B’nai B’rith.
Reich commended the Jewish community in Montevideo for its strong demonstration of concern for Soviet Jewry. It apparently prompted the unusual response by Shevardnadze. Ranking Soviet officials rarely if ever have direct personal contact with human rights demonstrators.
According to Reich’s report, Shevardnadze assured the crowd of his “firm resolve to solve the problem of Soviet Jewish emigration” and invited Uruguayan Jewish leaders to visit the Soviet Union to see for themselves.
He reportedly told Sclossky that exit visas would be granted to Jews except in cases where national security was involved. Sclossky replied that the security argument was invalid and pressed for the right of Jews to freely practice their religion and culture in the USSR.
The Jewish leader was quoted later as saying he hoped there was a genuine change in Soviet policy, but only time would tell. He said he expected a Jewish delegation would visit Moscow.