State Dept. Report Says Jewish Emigration from USSR Reduced to a Trickle, While Repression is Up
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State Dept. Report Says Jewish Emigration from USSR Reduced to a Trickle, While Repression is Up

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Emigration by Jews from the Soviet Union continued to be just a trickle during the last six months while repression of activists and discrimination of Jews continued to increase in the USSR, according to a State Department report issued yesterday.

“The repression of Jewish activists have paralleled the repression of other dissenters,” it was noted in the 13th semi-annual report by the President of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe on the Implementation of the Helsinki Final Act.

“The precipitous drop in Jewish emigration which began in 1980 has continued, and current emigration levels are so drastically low that emigration has all but ceased to be a practical option for Soviet Jews,” the report said.

The report, which covers the period from June 1 to November 30, was submitted by Secretary of State George Shultz to Rep. Dante Fascell (D. Fla.) chairman of the Commission. It noted that emigration figures for Jews, ethnic Germans and Armenians, the three groups that have been allowed to emigrate have dropped sharply.

“Only 2,207 Jews were allowed to emigrate in the first nine months of 1982, ” the report said. “If projected to the end of the year, this would result in the emigration of less than 3,000 Jews in 1982, compared to 51,300 in 1979, when emigration from the USSR reached its zenith.”

The report added that “there are reports from a number of areas in the USSR that local offices of visas and registration (OVIR) officials have been telling prospective emigrants that Jewish emigration is coming to an end. Many Soviet Jews attribute this decline to the deterioration of East-West relations in the past several years and to Soviet fears of a Jewish ‘brain-drain.’ Soviet Jewish sources estimate that there still are more than 300,000 Soviet Jews who possess the letters of invitation from Israel necessary for application to emigrate.”

The report noted that at least 14 persons have been arrested this year for “merely indicating a desire to emigrate.” The application process has become “even more difficult” and efforts to receive documents are “very time consuming and often, because of bureaucratic obstructionism, virtually impossible.”

Jewish refuseniks have been intimidated into ending their contacts with foreigners, according to the report. It noted that in September the KGB warned the leading Moscow refusenik, Aleksandr Lerner, to end his contacts with diplomats, correspondents and other visitors or face trial and imprisonment.


In addition, the report noted that “the authorities have treated Western tourists who met with dissidents, religious believers or refuseniks with usually heavy-handed crudeness and have denied visas to others whom they have suspected of intending to do so.”

This has been particularly true in Leningrad, but also in Moscow and Kiev. “For instance, an official of a U.S. Jewish organization was warned by several strangers in her Moscow hotel to ‘start behaving responsibly’ by ceasing to meet with refuseniks,” the report said.

The report also noted that one of the most active Jewish culture-Hebrew study circles in Moscow led by Pavel Abramovich was suspended in June under pressure from the authorities.

“There have been numerous reports of discrimination against Jews, such as denial of access to higher education,” the report said. It said that 11 Jews had their higher degrees revoked which results in the loss of their jobs and income. “Occasional attacks on Zionism in the media appear intended to arouse anti-Semitic feelings among the populace,” the report charged.


The report also noted the plight of Anatoly Shcharansky, who is being force fed because he went on a hunger strike in prison to protest the refusal to allow him visitors and mail. Jewish activist Aleksandr Paritsky recanted on television because he was threatened with an extension of his term until 1990 despite his heart condition, the report charged.

In addition, the report lists Jewish activist Feliks Kochubievsky, who tried to found a USSR-Israeli friendship society, and was arrested on charges of disseminating anti-Soviet “fabrications.”

In dealing with other countries, the report noted that while the Rumanian government discourages emigration “the system established in 1979 for voluntary registration with the Rumanian Federation of Jewish Communities of Rumania Jews wishing to emigrate continues to function, although a considerable case backlog of individuals continues to exist. Emigration to Israel in 1982 was about the some as 1981, Several hundred thousand Jews have left Rumania since World War II and only perhaps as few as 35,000 remain.”

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