Soviet Harassment Continues (from Combined JTA Wire Services)
Menu JTA Search

Soviet Harassment Continues (from Combined JTA Wire Services)

Download PDF for this date

Reports from Jewish groups in the United States and abroad monitoring the treatment of Jews in the Soviet Union reported this weekend that harassment of visa applicants and their families and the mistreatment of “Prisoners of Conscience” is intensifying despite guidelines contained in the Oct. 18 letters that were exchanged between Sen. Henry M. Jackson (D.Wash.) and Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger relating to Soviet trade benefits and emigration policy.

According to reports received from London from Jewish sources in the Soviet Union 100 Soviet Jews sent a letter to Jackson protesting against the recent wave of forced conscriptions of young Jewish visa applicants. “The events of recent days contradict the assurance that the Soviet Union intends to honor the principles of the recent agreement concluded in Washington,” the letter stated.

The increase of forced conscription, the letter continued. is particularly alarming since it is obviously being used by the Soviet authorities to penalize applicants and their families as well as to deter others from applying for exit visas. “Its aim is to subject them to hardship and deprive them of their hope to go to Israel for many years,” the letter noted.


In New York, the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry reported that 70 Soviet Jewish activists have appealed to Kissinger to “do all you can to save the life of Dr. Mikhail Stern,” a noted pediatrician whose trial in Vinnitsa is expected soon. Dr. Stern has been under detention and constant interrogation for nearly six months on a series of unsubstantiated charges including the alleged poisoning of children. His arrest has been attributed to the fact that his sons. Viktor and August, applied a year ago for visas to emigrate to Israel.

Dr. Stern’s sons, who have been dismissed from their Jobs and had their property confiscated, said they have sought to find out the specific charges against their father. “We fear greatly for his life, but we cannot find out how he feels.” the SSSJ reported. Viktor and August reported that all they have been told by Soviet authorities is that their 64-year-old father “is coughing up blood.” A lawyer from the Vinnitsa Lawyers Association has been appointed by the town’s municipal authority as counsel for the defense, but he has refused to talk to members of Dr. Stern’s family.


Reports from the National Conference on Soviet Jewry in New York stated that Soviet prison authorities are deliberately isolating certain Jewish prisoners by transferring them to other labor camps, thereby separating them from their friends. Others are being punished with solitary confinement or denial of family visits. Among those transferred are Boris Penson, Boris Azernikov, Lassal Kaminsky and Mikhail Korenblit. Conditions in the new camp are reported worse than those in the Potma labor camp from which they were transferred.

In addition, Azernikov, who was arrested in 1971 and is serving a 3 1/2-year sentence, was also given six months solitary confinement, according to the NCSJ. Israel Zalmanson and Penson were denied visits by their families. Anatoly Altman, who is ill. was refused a medical parcel sent by his family.

According to reports received in London from Jewish sources in the USSR, Col. Yefim Davidovitch of Minsk, a Red Army hero, has been requested to appear before the army registration board and told that he will be stripped of his rank and deprived of his pension unless he gives up his demand for an exit visa to Israel. Davidovitch. who is recovering from a heart attack brought on, according to his friends, by anxiety over his exit visa, told the authorities that he would not be intimidated.

In another development, Jewish sources reported that Vladimir Kisling of Kiev was brutally beaten recently by “unknown persons” and then sentenced to 15 days imprisonment for “hooliganism” because he tried to defend himself. A group of Kiev Jews who complained to the local KGB chief that they are being harassed by his own men were warned that they would “meet with the fate of Kisling.” Another Jewish activist. Leonid Tsipin, was also beaten by hooligans and complained about the incident to police. When he came to the police station several days ago to ask about the progress of the investigation the police chief refused to talk to him.


These were among some of the incidents reportedly given to Sen. James Buckley (R-C.NY), who met with Soviet Jews in Moscow yesterday at the start of his week-long visit to the USSR. Buckley, a leading campaigner for free emigration for Soviet Jews and a critic of U.S.-Soviet detente, met with Jews outside the Moscow synagogue after the Sabbath service. He told them that he was trying to ascertain what safeguards surrounded the Kissinger Jackson agreement under which emigration would be eased in return for U.S. trade concessions.

The Senator, who went directly from the Moscow Airport to meet with the Jews, said he found a great deal of anxiety among those he spoke to regarding the U.S. agreement on emigration. The Moscow Jews urged Buckley to make certain that the accord must be implemented in deeds, not Just words, and also suggested some form of Congressional monitoring of the agreement to make certain it was being carried out. Buckley .who is visiting the USSR for the first time. said. “If detente is going to work there must be a quid for every pro quo.” The Senator is in the Soviet Union in an attempt to see if detente is really working.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund