LONDON (Jun. 24)
Jewish sources in the Soviet Union today disputed a report by the official Soviet news agency Tass that one of the Jews convicted in the Leningrad hijack trial last December has implicated three of the nine Jews presently on trial in Kishinev. The sources said Tass’ claim that Hillel Butman identified David Chernoglaz as one of the organizers of the alleged hijack plot of June, 1970 and named Alexander Galperin and Arkady Voloshin as accomplices was “a complete travesty of the truth.” The Jewish sources said that Butman who is serving a prison term for his role in the alleged plot to hijack a Soviet airliner at Leningrad was forced to testify at the Kishinev trial but refused to implicate any of the defendants. They said Butman merely repeated the contention that none of the accused acted in a manner harmful to the Soviet Union. He admitted meeting with the defendants but nothing more. Nevertheless, the Kishinev prosecutor claimed that the evidence given at the previous hijack trials coincided with the testimony against the present defendants. The sources ridiculed Tass’ assertion that the Kishinev trial was “open.” They said that only Soviet correspondents were admitted to the courtroom and that they had to rely on oral reports of the proceedings which did not always coincide.
In other developments, 33 Latvian and Lithuanian Jews staged a hunger strike at the Moscow Central Post Office today while 50 more Jews held a similar demonstration in Riga to protest the government’s refusal to grant them exit visas. The Moscow group said they planned to stay at the post office until they were told why exit visas were denied them. According to Jewish sources, Roiza Palatnik, whose trial began yesterday in an Odessa provincial court, pleaded not guilty to charges that she slandered the Soviet Union. The 35-year-old librarian who has been jailed since last Dec. 1, claimed as her trial opened that she was being persecuted for wanting to go to Israel, the sources said. No reports or her trial have appeared in Soviet news media. Reliable sources said Miss Palatnik was charged with possession of petitions signed by Jews protesting official policies and with planning to circulate them. She claimed that she had the material for professional reasons. If convicted of slandering the Soviet Union or planning to do so, Miss Palatnik would face a penalty of up to three years imprisonment.