NEW YORK (Mar. 31)
Mark Nashpitz, a 27-year-old dentist, and Boris Tsitlionok, a 31-year-old plumber, were today sentenced to five years in exile by a Moscow district court, according to the National Conference on Soviet Jewry, and the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry. The sentence was imposed a few hours after the beginning of the trial which was closed to other Moscow Jewish activists and foreign correspondents.
Under Soviet law exile means the two men cannot live in their home town of Moscow. There was no immediate word, however, where they would be sent. They had been charged with disturbing public order which carries a maximum penalty of three years imprisonment
FIRST TO BE TRIED FOR PUBLIC PROTESTS
Soviet authorities appeared to take pains to keep the trial, already raising an international clamor, from being publicized. When foreign correspondents and some 40 Jewish activists arrived at the court they found a note on the door saying the court was closed for cleaning, However, police confirmed the trial was being held but said the courtroom was full. The NCSJ said that Allan Grieman, a lawyer from Illinois who is in the Soviet Union as a tourist, tried to enter the courtroom but was also barred by authorities.
Nashpitz and Tsitlionok were the first Jewish activists to be tried for public protests in Moscow. They were among nine Jews who demonstrated outside the Lenin Library Feb. 24 to protest against the refusal of Soviet authorities to grant them emigration visas. The others were released or were sentenced to 10-15-day jail terms.
The two men’s mothers, Itta Nashpitz and Batya Tsitlionok, both of whom are now Israeli citizens, have been conducting a vigil outside the Soviet Embassy in London to protest the trial. They continued to sit outside the Embassy gates in inclement weather today despite a warning from a doctor that they should end their demonstration.
TRIAL CALLED A FRAUD
Stanley H. Lowell, chairman of the NCSJ, called the trials of Nashpitz and Tsitlionok a “fraud.” He noted that “there were early hints that this trial, like others in recent months, would be open to the press and certainly friends of the accused would be permitted to enter the courtroom. By holding this trial in camera, Soviet authorities telegraphed to the world that they were afraid to hold an open trial because there was no real evidence against these men.”