NEW YORK (Oct. 20)
An authoritative foreign source confirmed to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today that Soviet authorities arrested earlier this month one of the leading activists for Jewish emigration rights. The activist is Ruth Alexandrovitch, 24, of Riga, who has signed several petitions on behalf of Soviet Jews seeking to leave for Israel. Reports on the arrest were received earlier in the day from the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry here and from the Los Angeles-based California Students for Soviet Jews. Miss Alexandrovitch was detained in July on her return from a vacation in Odessa, allegedly on suspicion of carrying cholera germs. She was officially arrested on Oct. 7 on charges of anti-Soviet activities and “slander.” That is the same charge levied against Boris Kochubiyevsky, the Kiev engineer sentenced last year to three years at hard labor. The Latvian KGB (secret police) denied Miss Alexandrovitch the right to proceed with her scheduled Oct. 14 wedding, and also denied her the right to hold the ceremony in prison.
In another development, Soviet authorities have for the first time arrested persons for distributing leaflets demanding Jewish emigration rights, according to the Student Struggle. Based on information received from SMOG, the Sweden-based organization concerned with Soviet Jewry, a Swedish woman and two male French students were arrested Oct. 14 for handing out some 50 leaflets In the large GUM department store. The leaflets condemned Soviet “persecution” and “forcible detention” of Jews, and called the denial of emigration permission a “violation of the Declaration of Human Rights of the USSR.” The names of the three were not immediately available. Zev Yaroslavsky, chairman of the California Students, said the arrest of Miss Alexandrovitch on suspicion of cholera was the second such detention in recent weeks, the first having been of Dr. Tony Greenberg of Los Angeles, who was visiting the USSR. “This is a serious development,” he said. “Ruth is the 34th Jew to be arrested in recent months, and we are very concerned about these developments. We are very saddened by Ruth’s arrest, but we also have attained renewed strength to continue the fight for which she had unjustly and immorally been Imprisoned.” He said that “If the Soviets wish to raise the stakes, perhaps we will too,” adding that the CSSJ was planning a major–but as yet undisclosed–solidarity action in the “near future.”