NEW YORK (Jul. 31)
Following the arrest of long-term "refusenik," Lev Roitburd, a group of 16 Soviet Jewish activists addressed an appeal to the U.S. Senators who were in the Soviet Union at the time of the arrest, it was reported today by the National Conference on Soviet Jews. On July 2, Roitburd was about to leave Odessa for Moscow, when KGB plainclothesmen arrested him on charges of "resisting arrest." In their appeal, issued in Moscow and released today by the NCSJ, the activists ask the Senators to pay "special attention to this case" and to "take steps expressing your opinion about it as the incident took place during your stay in the USSR, and was, apparently, connected with your visit there."
The appeal noted that Roitburd, an engineer who has had to work as a metal worker, bought plane tickets for himself and his 12-year-old son in order to fly to Moscow and Leningrad on the first day of his vacation, July 2, On July 1, a KGB agent warned him not to leave Odessa, but Roitburd rejected this illegal demand and went to the airport with his son and his wife, who saw them off. They were not allowed to board the plane. "Right in front of his wife and son, men in civilian dress pulled him by the hair to a local militia office," the appeal stated.
His wife was not allowed to come into the office. The next day she was told by the militia that a case had been opened against her husband "for resisting arrest." Roitburd now faces a prison sentence of up to five years. Roitburd first applied for a permit to emigrate to Israel three years ago. "The case of Roitburd is not an exception in the practice of persecuting Soviet Jews who have applied for emigration to Israel," the appeal said.
The appeal was signed by: Aleksandr Lunts, Anatoly Sharansky, Vladimir Slepak, Aleksandr Lerner, Vitaly Rubin, Ida Nudel, Dina Beilina, Efim Davidovich, Lev Ovsishcher, Vladimir Prestin, Ilya Essas, Benjamin Fain, Pavel Abramovich, Mark Azbel, Viktor Brailovsky and Vladimir Lazaris.