NEW YORK (Mar. 18)
Six Moscow Jewish activists who protested the refusal by Soviet officials to grant them exit visas were threatened with arrest under a new ukase issued Dec. 25, it was reported here by Jewish sources. The six went to the ovir office in Moscow two months ago to apply for exit visas and were told to return. When they did so several days ago ovir officials told them flatly, “Your applications have been denied,” according to the sources.
The activists then went to the KGB office where they were told that the refusals were justified and that further complaints should be made to the Ministry of the Interior. When they threatened to initiate a hunger strike in protest, the militia was called and ordered them to leave the premises, sources reported. When they refused to do so, they were taken to a “sobering up station.”
After several hours of detention they were each given written warnings that unless they cease their “provocative” activities against the Soviet government they would be “prosecuted under the ukase of Dec. 25.” They were not shown the edict, according to sources, nor were they told where it had been published. Officials, however, reportedly hinted that the law forbids hunger strikes and breaking “public law.”
Among the six activists were Mark Nashpitz, who was sentenced last year along with Gavriel Shapiro to one year corrective labor, and Leonid Tsypin who was forced to go into hiding last May.