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Georgi Ermolenko



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. FEDERAL PRESIDENT: MR. R.J. SOUTHEY. C.M.G.

HE LIBERAL PARTY OF AUSTRALIA FEDERAL SECRETARIAT

BLACKALL & MACQUARIE STS., BARTON, A.C.T. G.P.O. BOX 13, CANBERRA, A.C.T. 2600 TELEPHONE. 73 2564 TELEGRAMS "FEDLIB" CANBERRA ..

NEWS RELEASE: AUGUST 13, 1974.

FROM THE HON. MALCOLM FRASER, MP

Soviet Union officials today boycotted a meeting in Perth allegedly arranged by Senator Willessee and did not allow the brilliant young Russian violinist Georgi Ermolenko to attand. .

It is alleged that a statement will be read giving Ermolenko1s views Can anyone believe that they will be the views of the young violinist after thirty hours on constant pressure by his Soviet guards.

The future of Ermolenko is being threatened because the Australian Government is not prepared to offend its new friends in the Soviet Union by giving the young man an opportunity to make up his mind freely and without pressure on whether he wants to stay in Australia or not.

I have spoken with officials of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Labour and Immigration. They have passed the buck one to the other saying it is the other's responsibility. The Government has I believe issued instructions that Australian officials should do nothing that would arouse the sensitivities of the four Russians

including members of the Embassy and probably of the KGB.

If the Government wished it could establish circumstances in which Ermolenko could be placed on neutral grounds for a day or forty-eight hours or for a week so that he could be free to decide what he wants to do. In such an atmosphere last week he said he wanted to stay

in Australia. Now, after more than thirty hours in the constant companionship of four Soviet officials he is alleged by those officials to have changed his mind. Would anyone be surprised at that.

The boy has a father in Moscow and I have had reports that the Russian attitude has been overbearing and dominating not only to Ermolenko but to other Australians who have been involved.

The Government can give this young man the chance if it wishes to. If it allows the Soviet Union to bully Australia, to bully Ermolenko, the Government will have shown every person in this country that it is not particularly concerned about the civil liberties, the rights, of individuals. ·'

The solution is simple - have Ermolenko put on neutral ground to make up his mind certainly free from the pressures of four Russian companions and guards. We will know how to judge the Government by the results.

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MELBOURNE: 5 PM · .