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Murder of Sochum Rabbi Confirmed; Attacks on Tashkent Jews Reported

The American Jewish Conference on Soviet Jewry reported today independent verification of testimony of tourists returning recently from the Soviet Union that the rabbi of Sochum, an ancient Jewish community in the Georgian Republic, was murdered recently while on his way home from his synagogue.

Rabbi Israel Miller, president of the Conference, also cited other authenticated reports of atrocities, terror and vilification against Soviet Jews related to the May-June crisis and war in the Middle East.

Rabbi Miller said that Rabbi Michel Mozgorshvil of Sochum was forced into a car and abducted and that his mutilated corpse was found hanging from a tree in the Christian cemetery in Sochum the next day. Rabbi Miller said that no arrests have been made in the murder.

He said assaults on Jews have been reliably reported from Tashkent, capital of Uzbekistan, where a number of Jews have been seriously injured in attacks.

Rabbi Miller also reported that heavy pressures had been placed on Jewish communities and congregations to stage public meetings to condemn Israel but only one was known to have occurred–in Dushambe, Tadjikistan–several weeks ago.

Rabbi Miller said the physical assaults on Jews, which gave the lie to Premier Kosygin’s denial of anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union, during his United Nations press conference here last month, were related to a campaign of anti-Israel, anti-Zionist and anti-Jewish vilification in the controlled Soviet press. He said the campaign was unleashed at the time of the Arab massing of troops on Israel’s borders in May and intensified during and after the six-day June war.

“Soviet authorities have stimulated and incited a virulent anti-Semitic atmosphere in conjunction with their vicious anti-Israel policies and propaganda,” Rabbi Miller declared. He added that the campaign “panders to the worst elements in Soviet society–the anti-Semites, the bigots, the secret police and its terror apparatus and the hooligans who are ever ready to make pogroms.”

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