NEW YORK (Feb. 25)
Soviet uniformed police, plainclothesmen and soldiers broke up a planned hunger strike by four Jews seeking exit visas in Kishinev and arrested the participants and two Jewish spectators, the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry reported today. The SSSJ said the authorities rushed into the central telegraph office at Kishinev Friday night 2 1/2 hours after the planned 48-hour demonstration began. The six arrested Jews were taken to the Kishinev police station and then to an unknown destination, according to the SSSJ.
The four hunger strikers, Leonid Bendensky, Mark Abramovich, Sender Levinson and Yakov Schartzman all had served in the Red Army and this, the SSSJ said it learned, was used as a reason for denying them exit visas. In a letter to Soviet President Nikolai Podgorny and to the President of the Moldavian Republic, the four Jews said the refusal because of their military service was “arbitrariness” on the part of ovir personnel. One of the two Jewish spectators arrested, Miron Dorfman, recently staged a marathon 23-day hunger strike in an effort to obtain an exit visa.
Meanwhile, Ida Nudel, 43, a Jewish economist in Moscow, has joined the 10-day-old hunger strike of three other Jewish activists in Moscow protesting the denial of exit visas. According to information received here by the Greater New York Conference on Soviet Jewry and the SSSJ, Ms. Nudel has been the target of KGB (secret police) harassment for several months and has been threatened with imprisonment for alleged alcoholism and prostitution.
In a statement addressed to women all over the world, she noted that an exit visa cost 900 rubels in Russian currency. “But no one has so far estimated the price that one has to pay in human suffering for the privilege of being able to obtain this tiny scrap of paper.” She said that she had applied for a visa to go to Israel 21/2 years ago. “It is difficult to describe all the hardships and humiliations I have had to endure during these years as a consequence of the simple expression of my will,” she said. Ms. Nudel is staging her hunger strike in her apartment in solidarity with David Azbel, Vitaly Rubin and Vladimir Galatsky. The three are staging their action in Azbel’s Moscow apartment.