NEW YORK (May. 21)
At least six Jewish activist leaders were arrested yesterday in Moscow and sentenced to ten-day jail terms for “antisocial activities,” the National Conference on Soviet Jewry reported today. The Conference said its sources in Moscow linked the arrests to a petition to President Nixon which was signed by 300 Soviet Jews and presented Friday to the US Embassy in Moscow. All six were signers of the petition and one of them, Roman Rutman, claimed that he was one of the organizers of the petition campaign.
The arrests of Rutman, Victor Polsky and Boris Orlov were not confirmed, but two other activists, Vladimir Slepak and Vladimir Lebov, are known definitely to have been jailed, according to Jerry Goodman, executive director of the NCSJ. The name of the sixth Jew arrested was not known. There may have been more arrests, Goodman said.
The 300 signatories of the petition were from Moscow, Kiev, Riga, Kovno, and eight other Russian cities. They appealed to the President to intervene with Soviet leaders on behalf of Jewish emigration to Israel during the Moscow summit talks that begin tomorrow. Sources in the Soviet Union say the arrests were made to keep Jewish activist leaders “out of circulation” during Nixon’s visit.
The Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry sent a cable this afternoon to Nixon in care of the US Embassy in Moscow urging him to help release the Moscow six and to help gain exit visas to Israel for the ten Jewish activists still in hiding “as the prerequisite for substantive discussions with Soviet leaders.”