NEW YORK (Aug. 9)
Vladimir Markman, Sverdlovsk Jewish activist accused of hooliganism and giving slanderous information about the Soviet Union abroad, was convicted today in Sverdlovsk to three years on special regime, which is hard labor, Richard Maass, chairman of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry, reported. According to Maass, Roman A. Rudenko, procurator general for the entire Soviet Union, presided at the trial.
Commenting on the trial, Maass said, “With the cruel and barbaric sentencing…there can no longer be any doubt that Soviet policy, however extensive the recent propaganda attempts by Soviet officials have been, is continuing to reflect the view that Soviet Jews, and particularly Jewish activists, will be stopped.” Maass also said that the persecution and hounding of Markman, before his arrest and prior to “this farce of a trial,” speaks for itself. Both Markman and his wife had reportedly been harassed in the weeks since his arrest April 29. They had been attempting to obtain a Moscow lawyer and move the trial to Moscow, where foreign journalists would be present. Maass explained that “Soviet officials counted on the relative isolation of the city of Sverdlovsk to cover up what is a blatant and gross travesty of the word ‘justice.’”
He further said, “We fear now, that based on this conviction, in the remote town of Sverdlovsk, a broad ‘conspiracy plot’ may be charged against others. Soviet officials, who believed they would bury this case and set an example for other Jews, are mistaken. We are asking prominent individuals…to make it clear to Soviet officials that this type of ‘star-chamber’ procedure can no longer be covered up.”
The NCSJ is sending letters and telegrams to all their constituent agencies and local communities, to legal associations and individual lawyers, as well as US government officials. Telegrams have gone to Pres. Nixon and the State Department protesting the conviction. Many have expressed fear that the evidence gathered at Markman’s trial will be used at further trials of Jewish activists in Moscow, the NCSJ said.
The NCSJ had reported previously that a Soviet telephone operator had testified at the trial that she had overheard Markman giving “slanderous information” about the Soviet Union during an alleged telephone conversation with Israel. The defendant was reported at the trial to have said that anti-Semitism did exist in the Soviet Union.