Menu JTA Search

Campaign of Terror, Intimidation Unleashed Against Relatives of Riga Defendants

A campaign of terror and intimidation against Jews in Riga, among them relatives of defendants in forthcoming trials, was reported today by reliable Jewish sources. Two Riga Jews, Simon Jassul and Margarita Shpilberg, received identical anonymous letters stating, “Kikes you continue to live. Hitler has not managed to finish you off. ” Mrs. Shpilberg is the wife of Arksdy Shpilberg who is under arrest and awaiting trial in Riga, The letter threatened further, “All of you are to be slaughtered. All of you go to Israel. You don’t want to work. Go from here. We hate you.” Jassul and Mrs. Shpilberg went to the KGB, the Soviet secret police, but were refused help because the letters were anonymous, the sources said. According to the same sources two relatives of accused Jews in Riga have been dismissed from their jobs. They were identified as Dr, Pinhas Khanokh, brother of Leib Kanokh who is awaiting trial in Riga and Zanvil Zalmanson, whose sister Silva and brother Isak received stiff prison sentences in the Leningrad hijack trial last month. Another Riga Jew who lost her job, according to these sources, is Frida Zaslavskaya. She was fired from an agricultural agency when she applied to her employer for references in order to file for an exit visa.

TWO PROMINENT RUSSIAN JEWISH ACTIVISTS RECEIVE PERMISSION TO EMIGRATE TO ISRAEL

According to reliable sources, Soviet authorities have given two prominent Jewish activists permission to go to Israel. One of them, identified as Boris Tsukerman, applied for his visa only two months ago and will leave on Jan. 25. The other, Vitaly Svichinsky, will leave Jan, 23. According to the sources, they will depart with their families. Israeli sources have placed at about 1000 the number of Soviet Jews who came to Israel last year. Only a few of the exit visas have gone to activists–Jews who have been openly agitating for their right to emigrate. The sources described Tsukerman as a physicist who became an expert of Soviet law and who has been challenging the Soviet regime in its own courts on issues like government censorship of private mail. He was also said to act as a liaison between Jews who want to leave and Soviet dissidents, scientists and intellectuals, Jews and non-Jews among them, who have been chafing under official repression.

The sources said that Tsukerman’s departure would deprive the dissidents, who call themselves the Democratic Movement, of their most potent source of legal advocacy against the Soviet bureaucracy. The source quoted one Moscow Jew as saying that if Jews of Tsukerman’s caliber are permitted to leave, it would set back the cause of Soviet Jewish emigration. The person quoted also expressed the view that too many of the activists use their emotions rather than their intelligence to gain their objectives. Today’s report indicates a change of policy toward Jewish emigration though not necessarily an opening of doors to all Jews who want to leave. Some observers believe that by permitting the departure of activists who are also prominent members of the Jewish community. Soviet authorities reason that they are getting rid of prime agitators and at the same time defusing the dissident movement. The Russian sources reported that the second trial of nine Jews in Leningrad, already postponed once, will be delayed until the end of February and that the pending trials of Jews in Riga and Kishinev are also experiencing delays. According to reports received by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency last week, the second Leningrad trial and the trial in Riga were to take place later this month and the Kishinev trial during the first ten days of February.

NEXT STORY