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Soviets deport Toronto activist

Nancy Watt — August 1984

MOSCOW – A Toronto peace activist, Metta Spencer, was deported from the Soviet Union on July 11th. She had been invited to a dialogue in Moscow (June 23-24) as a guest of the Soviet Peace Committee, the official peace organization.

Spencer had made complicated travel arrangements to which her hosts had agreed before her departure. Her itinerary included plans to visit Stockholm and Helsinki before returning to Moscow to connect with her flight home.

During the Moscow conference Spencer received several indications that her plans would be disrupted. Chief among these was the fact that during the conference she was asked to join two “officials” in a private room for a three hour discussion about her support for the Group to Establish Trust, an independent Soviet peace group.

Spencer received verbal assurances from her guide that she would be able to fly home on the agreed-upon date. However, when she returned to Moscow 2 weeks later, having followed the Peace Committee’s instructions to the letter, she was immediately deported from the Soviet Union without being allowed to contact her embassy. She attributes her deportation, not to anything she did while there, but to her previous support of the Group to Establish Trust. She had spoken in favour of the Group with officials of the Soviet Peace Committee and her newspaper articles on the subject had been widely published.

“Western peace activists on a tight budget should be forewarned about the unreliability of Soviet hospitality,” she says. “They are frustrated these days about the breakdown of the arms control talks, the pressure of world opinion favouring Sakharov, and a hundred other irritants. But it’s sad that they’re so ready to break off communication with peace activists who are genuinely seeking solutions to our joint problems.”