NEW YORK (Feb. 12)
The Soviet government, traditionally silent on the issue of anti-Semitism, has taken the extraordinary step of issuing a statement saying that no “concrete evidence” exists to support rumors of upcoming pogroms in Moscow.
The statement, issued by the KGB and carried by the Soviet news agency Tass, also chides the news media for assisting in the spread of such rumors.
“Rumors about pogroms rouse people and exacerbate the situation,” said the statement, a copy of which was sent to the World Jewish Congress by Soviet officials.
“The only information that the state security bodies have been receiving are the rumors themselves, reports of them by the mass media and requests by individual citizens for explanations about one rumor or another,” the statement said.
While the KGB dismissed the rumors, it also said it is “monitoring the situation” and pledged to “take the necessary measures if the tension escalates.”
The security agency called on the media to report the rumors in a more balanced manner, “because appeals to violence on one occasion provoke appeals for violence on other occasions.”
In New York, the National Conference on Soviet Jewry cautiously welcomed the statement, but said that deep concern still exists among Jews in Moscow and other Soviet cities.
“If indeed, official sources in the Soviet Union are condemning anti-Semitism and warning against overt anti-Jewish behavior, that is a positive development,” said Jerry Strober, an NCSJ spokesman.
But he said the National Conference is still awaiting a statement by Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev condemning anti-Semitism.