WASHINGTON (May. 23)
The trial of four Jews is scheduled to begin tomorrow in Riga and nine Jews are scheduled to go on trial Wednesday to Kishinev, according to Jewish sources here. Trials are also being prepared against Jews in Odessa, Kharkov and Tbilsi (Georgia). It is believed that the aim of these trials is to spread terror among Jews who wish to emigrate to Israel. Reports indicate these trials will be conducted behind closed doors. According to the Soviet Jewry Committee of the Jewish Community Council of Greater Washington, the Soviet authorities are attempting to create the public impression, as they tried in the case of the Leningrad Nine, that the defendants are somehow linked with the alleged hijacking attempt of a Soviet airliner last June. “The fear is spreading among Russian Jewish communities that the security authorities are pursuing a calculated campaign to extend the net of arrests to all Jews actively seeking immigration to Israel,” it is reported in the latest issue of “Underground,” a Jewish Community Council publication which deals with Jewish news in the Soviet Union. “A situation has arisen in which it is sufficient to own a Hebrew-language textbook or an Israeli record to be the object of suspicion of ‘anti-Soviet activity.'” On April 30, according to “Underground,” an estimated 67 Riga Jews signed a letter to the Executive Council of the Riga Municipal Council, demanding the right to hold a public rally and demonstration protesting the forthcoming trial.
The letter read, in part: “We also ask to be given facilities for street demonstrations and that an unbroken telephone connection with Israel be assured to us for the transmission of reports of our action…” Copies of the letter wore sent to the Riga Militia Department and to the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Latvian SSR. On May 15, the 67 signatories were asked to appear at the offices