Report Soviets May Review Emigration Rights; Drabkin Reported on Way to Israel

Reports from Moscow today indicated that Soviet authorities might be reviewing their policy toward Jews and their demands for emigration rights. A top level policy decision on emigration was expected today. It was promised five days ago to a group of 24 Jews who staged a sit-in at the Supreme Soviet building in downtown Moscow, a rare, almost unprecedented act in the USSR. Meanwhile, according to information reaching here. David Drabkin who has been actively campaigning for emigration rights, and who was told by Soviet authorities last month that he could keep his exit visa as long as he didn’t try to leave the country before the world conference on Soviet Jewry in Brussels ended, has left for Israel. During his almost two-year campaign for emigration rights, Drabkin declared that he did not consider himself a Soviet citizen but a citizen of Israel. According to sources. Alexander S. Dumin, deputy chief of the Supreme Soviet, promised the sit-in Jews last week that a decision on emigration rights would be announced March 1. The decision “will cover not only the common problem of all Jews but your personal desire to leave.” Dumin reportedly told the group after a nine-hour confrontation. He said, “This is the decision of very high government officials.” According to one report, one of the demonstrators has since received an exit visa and another was told to complete the application procedure.

Sources in Russia reported today that judicial authorities of the Russian Republic are reviewing the documents in the cases of nine Jews facing trial in Leningrad and five in Riga on charges growing out of an alleged plot to hijack a Soviet airliner last June. Nine Jews are serving prison terms imposed after a hijack trial in Leningrad last December. A second Leningrad trial opened on Jan. 6 but was adjourned immediately because one defendant was said to be ill. It never re-opened. The long delayed Riga trial was supposed to begin this week but sources said they had learned unofficially that the trial documents were being reviewed in Moscow. Lev N. Smirnov, chairman of the Supreme Court of the Russian Republic reportedly told relatives of five of the Leningrad defendants that he was reviewing the papers which came to 40 volumes and that reading them might take another three weeks. Observers here noted that it was unusual for the Supreme Court to review trial documents of a lower court before the trial opened. They said the higher authorities could order the cases dismissed, ask that the charges be reframed, call for further investigation or order the trial to proceed. Sources said the Leningrad relatives were promised that they would be notified by the high court as soon as a decision was made.

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