OTTAWA (Dec. 16)
A ranking Soviet diplomat claimed before the Parliamentary Human Rights Committee here Tuesday that the figure of 400,000 Soviet Jews seeking exit visas was fictitious.
Alexei Makarov, minister counsellor at the Soviet Embassy, who appeared before the committee apparently of his own volition, chided the M.P.s for alleged anti-Soviet bias. The committee has been hearing testimony for more than six months on human rights in the Soviet-bloc countries.
It has heard mostly from Jewish and other religious groups, emigre organizations and Baltic nationalists. Makarov, who is second in command at the Soviet Embassy, called the hearings a daily parade of anti-Soviet bias from people who use “Cold War cave language” to smear the Soviet Union.
Saying he was “appalled at the biased approach,” he disputed the claim by Jewish groups before the committee that Soviet Jews are not allowed to leave the country and are denied the right to practice their religion.
He held up a list which he claimed refuted the charge that some 400,000 Jews want to emigrate. He said the “so-called refuseniks” number “closer to 1,000″ and “all of them could be accommodated comfortably in this hall,” a reference to the committee room on Parliament Hill.
Makarov said that only 220 Soviet citizens have been refused exit visas on state security grounds. He added that the new era of glasnost (openness) provides an opportunity to improve East-West relations.