Reagan Blames Soviet Bureaucracy for Inflexible Emigration Policies
Menu JTA Search

Reagan Blames Soviet Bureaucracy for Inflexible Emigration Policies

Download PDF for this date

President Reagan, speaking Thursday on his arrival here from Moscow, repeated that Soviet bureaucracy rather than General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev was responsible for Russia’s inflexible emigration policies.

“I don’t think I made it that definite, but that is (the reason for) some of the problems there,” Reagan said.

Asked if the policies of Gorbachev were responsible, he said: “I was trying to put out that sometimes cases of that kind (emigration) do not get that far up the ladder.”

Reagan and his wife Nancy were to have tea with the Queen at Buckingham Palace Thursday afternoon. Over dinner in the evening, the president was to brief Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher on his Moscow talks.

Journalists on the flight from Moscow were told that the American president’s refusal to blame Gorbachev personally for Soviet emigration difficulties did not contradict his tough position on human rights.

Reagan had first made his comments on the Soviet bureaucracy at his press conference in Moscow on Wednesday and at Moscow State University Tuesday.


“I don’t think he backed off,” White House Chief of Staff Howard Baker told reporters aboard Air Force One en route from Moscow to London.

“The impression I had was that the president was saying that with glasnost and perestroika, that (the) bureaucracy is the last to change,” Baker said.

“There is inertia there, and many of the repressive actions that have been brought to our attention has more to do with the inertia of the bureaucracy than the announced intentions of the Soviet leadership.”

Meanwhile, a joint statement issued at the conclusion of the four-day summit Wednesday said that Reagan and Gorbachev agreed that a dialogue on all levels be maintained “to achieve sustained concrete progress” on human rights.

“They noted that this dialogue should seek to maximize assurance of the rights, freedoms and human dignity of individuals; promotion of people-to-people communications and contacts; active sharing of spiritual, cultural, historical and other values; and greater mutual understanding and respect between the two countries,” the statement said.


“Toward this end, they discussed the possible establishment of a forum which, meeting regularly, would bring together participants from across the range of their two societies.” These participants would include both governmental and non-governmental representatives, the statement said.

The human rights section of the joint statement was short compared to the space devoted to arms control and bilateral agreements.

The regional section, which was also brief, did not deal with specifics on the Middle East. But it stressed that “although the discussions revealed serious differences, both in the assessment of the causes of regional tensions and in the means to overcome them, the leaders agreed that these differences need not be an obstacle to constructive interaction between the USSR and the U.S.”

Gorbachev and Reagan pledged to continue discussions at all levels to help “find peaceful solutions” to regional problems “which advance” the “independence, freedom and security” of the countries involved.


Meanwhile, the British Foreign Office protested Wednesday to the Soviet Embassy in London over Moscow’s refusal to give four prominent British lawyers visas to attend a meeting of the International Bar Association starting Sunday in the Soviet capital.

The embassy gave no reason for withholding the visas but it is believed to be due to the lawyers’ support for Soviet Jewry.

The four refused visas were Anthony Hallgarten, David Winter, Jonathan Arkush and David Halpern.

Professor Yoram Dinstein, Tel Aviv University professor of human rights, has also been barred by the Soviets, as has Canadian lawyer Irwin Cotler. But Yaacov Rubin, chairman of the Israeli Bar Association, has received a visa.

The conference of the International Bar Association, which has more than 13,000 members from 110 countries, was organized jointly with the Association of Soviet Lawyers.

Some 600 lawyers from 30 countries are expected to attend, with the Soviet justice minister, Aleksander Sukharev, jointly chairing some of the meetings.

(Washington correspondent David Friedman contributed to this report.)

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