INTRODUCTION: Soviet jews have been celebrating Passover, the highlight of their annual religious calender, in the face of reports of a 'pogrom atmosphere' developing in Moscow, the Soviet Capital.
INTRODUCTION: Soviet jews have been celebrating Passover, the highlight of their annual religious calender, in the face of reports of a 'pogrom atmosphere' developing in Moscow, the Soviet Capital. In an apparent effort to allay fears of official anti-Jewish persecution, Soviet Television in Moscow filmed one of the Passover services on sunday (3 April). The film script said there was no state interference in religious organisation -- and that the individual citizen's religious belief did not affect his civil life.
SYNOPSIS: The script pointed out that there were synagogues operating openly in cities throughout the Soviet Union. Meanwhile, western nations led by the United States have been growing more critical of the Soviet government's approach to human rights -- claiming violations of the 1975. Helsinki Agreement to which the Soviet Union was a co-signatory with western nations. In addition, prominent Soviet dissidents who have fled to the west in recent years took with them reports of passive and active pressure against Soviet Jewry. A recent report in the British Liberal newspaper the Guardian, written by Jewish author Reuben Ainsztein, names several dissidents rounded up by the authorities in February this year on various anti-state charges. One of them, leading Zionist activist Anatoly Shcharansky, faces charges which could lead to the death penalty. In telephone calls to contacts outside the country, according to the Guardian article, Jewish activists said they were afraid to leave their homes because of threats against them.
It was the stand on Soviet human rights taken by President Jimmy Carter of the United states, according to widely-circulating western reports, that led to the breakdown of the recent Soviet-American SALT talks on nuclear arms limitation.
Soviet Television says the authorities cannot discriminate against individuals on religious grounds because none of their official documentation requires to identify their beliefs.