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Riga Trial Begins; Synagogue in Riga Locked; Kgb Prevents Jews from Praying

Mrs. Rivka Aleksandrovich said at 10:30 a.m. (EST) that the trial of her daughter, Ruth, and three other Latvian Jews had gotten under way nine hours earlier in Riga. She told a press conference that she had received the news of the starting time by telephone from her husband 30 hours earlier and had not been advised otherwise since then. The news contradicted one published report here that the trial had been put off until next month. (In London, information received here from Jewish sources in Riga confirmed that the trial had begun. The other three defendants are: Boris Maftsier, Mikhail Shepshelovich and Arkady Shpilberg. Jewish sources reported that neither Miss Aleksandrovich nor Shepshelovich have pleaded guilty. The sources also said there has been no word of response by Maftsier to charges against him. The prosecutor in Riga will reportedly try to prove that the accused have been printing and circulating treasonable material. All four are charged with activities “harmful” to the Soviet State which carry penalties of up to 15 years at a “strict regime” labor camp which means at hard labor, the sources said.)

Mrs. Aleksandrovich also reported that when a group of Jews went to the Riga synagogue, the only shul in the city for 40,000 Jews, to pray for the Riga defendants, they found it locked and the yard filled with KGB (secret service) officers “who banished them out of the yard.” A few minutes later, speaking to an audience of 120 women at a meeting sponsored by the Women’s Plea for Soviet Jewish Prisoners of Conscience, an ad hoc interfaith group, Mrs. Aleksandrovich reported that the Riga trial had been moved from the center of town to a peninsula reachable only by crossing a bridge. She said the intent of the shift was to make it impossible for friends of the defendants to gain proximity to the proceedings. Meanwhile, Jewish sources here disclosed the names of the nine Jewish scheduled to go on trial in Kishinev on Wednesday. Six of them are from that city: Aleksander Galperin, 25; Gari Krishner, 25; Semeon Abramovich Levit, 24; David Rabinovich, 24; Abraham Trachtenberg, 24 and Arkady Voloshin, 25. Three are from Leningrad: David Iserovich Chernoglaz, 32; Anatoly Moiseyevich Goldfeld, 25 and Hillel Zalmanovich Shur, 34.

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