The Soviet Embassy has responded to mounting public compassion for 18 Soviet Georgian families who appealed to the United Nations for help to emigrate to Israel by issuing a purported “interview” which also denounced the families. The “interview” with the families was contained in a press release from Novosti, the Soviet propaganda agency. Entitled “Georgia: Requests for going to Israel.” it was written by Merab Lordkipanidze and Avitandil Rukhadze, identified as Novosti “press agency correspondents.”
The purported story from the two correspondents, said to represent the Georgian bureau of Novosti, declared. “The 18 Georgian Jews who asked the UN to help them go to Israel are quietly living and working; authorities did not even require any explanation from them.” The correspondents “met them in the towns where they reside” and “also interviewed representatives of authorities in charge of the emigration of Soviet citizens.”
The Soviet emigration authorities were quoted as saying, “13 out of those who signed the appeal were refused visas at once because they did not have close relatives in Israel, as is required by the laws of the Georgian Republic for emigration. The remaining five never made official requests for going to Israel.”
According to the Soviet release, “none of the persons who signed the appeal had sold their effects or had quit jobs.” The Jewish family heads were quoted as having made such statements “to make things look more convincing and for greater sympathy.” Novosti reported that “the Kutaisi rabbi condemned the actions of his parishioners who applied to the U.N.” He was quoted as stating that “their references to religion and our Judaic belief are untenable. There are several synagogues in our city, while in Georgia their number exceeds 20. They can freely perform their religious rites and rituals. This does not require going to Israel and leaving the land where dozens of generations of our forefathers have lived.”
The Jewish families had appealed for emigration because of their love for Israel. The Soviet Union has denied Jews the same cultural and educational facilities afforded to other minorities. The Soviet Union has exaggerated the alleged availability of synagogues and religious facilities when in fact the Kremlin is attempting to gradually liquidate Judaism, authorities say.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.