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Nine Jews to Go on Trial in Leningrad Jan. 6; Accused of Zionist Activity

Seven of nine Jews expected to go on trial in Leningrad on Jan. 6 were identified today. According to information reaching here, 12 others will be tried shortly in Riga and Kishinev. The defendants in the second Leningrad trial were reportedly arrested after an alleged attempt to hijack a Soviet airliner last June 15 for which two Jews have already been sentenced to death and nine others received prison terms of four to 15 years. But their arrests did not take place at Leningrad’s Smolny Airport where the original 11 were apprehended. One of them, Solomon Boguslawsky, was arrested after he protested publicly against the earlier Leningrad arrests. The names of six others were given as Grigory Gutman, Lev Yagman, Lev Kornblit, Lasal Kaminsky, Vladimir Mogilever and Victor Shpilbans, the latter a doctor. A woman identified as Ruth Alexandrovich will reportedly stand trial in Riga. Lev Kornblit is believed to be a 33-year-old dentist who was identified by Soviet authorities as Michael Kornblit when they arrested him last month. Miss Alexandrovich reportedly knew some of the Leningrad defendants and was accused by Soviet authorities of expressing anti-Soviet sentiments and discussing with her friends her hope of emigrating to Israel.

Only vague charges have been lodged against the Jews facing trial in Riga and Kishinev, it was learned here. So far they have been accused of spreading Zionist propaganda but no other specifics have been made public including the nature of the alleged Zionist propaganda and how it was spread. The Soviet secret police arrested them apparently after they applied for exit visas to go to Israel. Meanwhile, observers here saw little chance that the appeals by the Leningrad 11 would be successful. Two of them, Mark Dymshitz, the alleged leader of the so-called hijack plot, and Edvard Kuznetsov, were sentenced to death by firing squad. Prison terms meted out to the other defendants were: Josef Mendelovich and Yuri Federov, 15 years each; Alexander Murzhenkho. 14 years; Lieb Khanokh, 13 years; Boris Penson, 10 years; Anatoly Altman, 12 years; Israel Zalmanson, eight years; Silva Zalmanson Kuznetsov, 10 years; Mendel Bodnia, four years. According to information received here today, the two sentenced to death made statements to the court after sentence was pronounced. Kuznetsov reportedly said, “I never intended to harm the Soviet Union in any way. All I wanted was to live in Israel. I did not regard this as a hostile act to Russia.” Dymshitz reportedly called the sentences “extremely cruel” but said he was grateful “for the mercy shown my wife and daughter” who were released. He said the prosecutor had assumed crimes which had never been committed.

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