NEW YORK (Nov. 15)
The American Jewish Congress has charged that a “notorious anti-Semite”–S. Ye. Soloviov, chief city prosecutor of Leningrad–was preparing the case against 31 Jews arrested in four Soviet cities for a show trial to begin later this month. In a new message over its “hot line” for Soviet Jewry–a telephone recording device installed earlier this month–the Congress said the 31 Jewish “political prisoners” were being held on “trumped-up charges of planning to hijack a Russian airplane.” They are residents of Riga, Leningrad, Tbilisi and Kishinev. Mr. Soloviov, the message asserted, served as a judge in Leningrad’s criminal court in 1961 and presided over two trials involving Jews. In one, he sentenced a group to death for alleged economic crimes; in the other, synagogue leaders–including an 84-year-old man–were sentenced to long prison terms “because they sought to establish contact with Jewish leaders in other Soviet cities,” the Congress declared. The “hot line” message was recorded by Phil Baum, assistant executive director of the American Jewish Congress.
In a fact sheet offered to “hot line” callers, the Congress charged that a “high-level policy decision was made last spring to undertake a nationally-coordinated, concerted KGB action to crack down on the many Jews who persist in an overt struggle to leave the USSR for Israel in order to maintain their Jewish identity.” The document charged that entrapment and forced confessions were used in the detention of 12 Riga Jews arrested at the Smolny airport on charges of attempted hijacking. It attributed the information to relatives and friends of the Soviet Jews “living abroad but in the closest feasible contact at home.” The people believe, the fact sheet asserted, “that the Riga Jews were entrapped by someone planted in their midst. Privy to their passionate desire to emigrate to Israel and their repeated frustrated applications for exit permits, he gained their confidence by posing as a pilot and offering to fly them out of the country in the airplane he claimed he was normally scheduled to pilot on a routine domestic flight.” It is now feared that these circumstances will be distorted in forced confessions extracted from the prisoners, the fact sheet declared.