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Wilson Says Britain Has Often Discussed Soviet Jews with USSR

February 14, 1967
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Prime Minister Harold Wilson assured Parliament today that Britain has raised the question of the situation of Soviet Russia’s 3, 000, 000 Jews “many times.”

The statement was in reply to Sir Ian Orr-Ewing, Conservative, who had asked whether “in the present atmosphere of good will,” Mr. Wilson would follow up the requests of British Jewry and members of Parliament for Soviet Prime Minister Alexei N. Kosygin to take steps to alleviate the hardships of Jews in the USSR. “Something like 300 members of Parliament have signed a motion on this problem.” Sir Ian told Mr. Wilson: “It is an issue on which they feel strongly.”

Mr. Wilson replied that, while it was necessary that some individual matters had to be taken up separately with Mr. Kosygin, rather than in the main plenary part of the discussions, Sir Ian “could be assured” that the question has been raised every time the British Foreign Minister had met representatives of the Soviet Government. Mr. Wilson added: “We all feel strongly about this. But the Soviet Government does not admit some of the statements we have made on the issue, and, of course, regards it as an internal matter.”


Two humanitarian appeals were made today to Premier Kosygin on behalf of the Jews in the Soviet Union.

Lord Bertrand Russell, long considered a friend and apologist of the Soviet regime, sent a letter to Mr. Kosygin at the Soviet Embassy, asking him to use his authority to end delays experienced by those living in Russia who want to be reunited with their families in other countries. The famed philosopher said that, despite Mr. Kosygin’s statement in Paris last December that the road was open for those who wished to leave Russia to rejoin their families, applicants for exit permits continued to encounter difficulties. He enclosed a letter from an Israeli woman, Mrs. Elka Kedari, who said that, although her sole surviving relative in the Soviet Union had been given permission to leave the country in December, 1965, to join her in Israel, he had not been able to overcome all the technical problems raised, and was still unable to leave the country.

Two distinguished humanitarians, the Rev. James Parkes and Sir James Foster, jointly appealed to the Soviet premier to intervenes and show mercy in “certain individual cases that have caused concern for a number of years.” They cited two of these special cases; Mrs. Batya Reznitzky, of Riga, now serving a sentence of life imprisonment, and Gedalia Pechersky, of Leningrad, who was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment in 1961.

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