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Soviet Court Commutes Death Sentence on Rabbi to 15 Years in Jail

The death sentence meted out in the Soviet Union several months ago to Rabbi Benjamin Gavrilov, of Piatigorsk, who had been convicted of participation in alleged economic crimes, has been commuted to 15 years’ imprisonment, according to a Moscow dispatch received here today.

The report, emanating from Novosty, an official Soviet news agency, stated that the rabbi’s sentence had been reduced by the Superior Court of the Russian Soviet Federated Republic, largest component of the USSR. The same commutation was granted by the court to a second man given the death sentence in the same case, a Russian named A. Kazarov, Novosty reported.

Political circles here familiar with the persecutions of Jews in the Soviet Union noted that there were worldwide repercussions as a result of the death sentence originally imposed on Rabbi Gavrilov. He had been one of 10 men, and the only Jew, involved in a trial held last summer for alleged embezzlement of goods and the sale of the materials on the black market, as well as “speculation.”

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