Viktor Stern Arrested, Charged with Parasitism; 28 Moscow Jews Protest Phone Cuts and Wiretapping

Viktor Stern, son of Dr. Mikhail Stern, has been arrested by Soviet authorities and charged with parasitism, if was reported today by the National Conference on Soviet Jewry. He was ordered to work as a porter in a brick factory but has declined. Viktor has been seeking an exit visa to go to Israel. At the same time, August Stern, Viktor’s brother, told the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry in a phone call from Israel today, that Dr. Stern’s physical condition has worsened sharply. Dr. Stern is in a labor camp near Kharkov where he is serving an eight-year sentence.

In another development, 28 Moscow Jewish activists have appealed to the International Telecommunication Union, a United Nations affiliate, protesting the wiretapping and disconnection of their phones by Soviet authorities, according to the SSSJ. The activists stated that 150 phones in Moscow alone have been cut since the time of former President Nixon’s USSR visit three years ago.

In a letter to ITU, the activists revealed an official decree which forbids phone calls “for purposes contradictory to the State’s interests and to the public order.” Such a decree, they declared, “proves the existence and authorizes the use of wiretapping. Since the decree, selective wiretapping has become widespread, with consequent disconnections.” Not only have phones used for calls been cut, but also phones on which overseas calls were expected. In-addition, the Jews said, “our attempts to use the telephone exchanges were also blocked,”

Continuing, the activists wrote: “At this time of active steps towards relaxation of tension, we find ourselves isolated from our relatives and friends overseas. The telephone service has played an important part in our lives. Broadcasts of the ‘Voice of Israel’ are jammed, our correspondence is censored, our peaceful protests end in arrests–the telephone is the only means of finding out the truth about our friends and the only means of providing information about ourselves. We are made to understand that telling people abroad about our true situation compromises ‘state interests.’”

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