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Secret Diary from Soviet Camp Reports Harsh Measures Against Jews

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A secret diary written by an inmate of a Soviet forced labor camp in the Perm region of Russia disclosed that a serious disturbance occurred there last year in protest against the draconian measures taken by the camp guards, especially against Anatoly Altman. who was sentenced to ten years at hard labor at the first Leningrad hijack trial in 1970. A copy of the diary typewritten in Russian on white paper. has reached Kibbutz Yagur which has adopted Altman as an honorary member.

According to the writer. Altman was subjected to severe punishment between May and August, 1975 because he refused to shave his beard. The diary says Altman was chained and forcibly shaved. As punishment, he was denied permission to receive visitors. He went on a hunger strike in protest and was joined by 20 other inmates. As a result. Altman was put in solitary confinement for ten days and denied the right to purchase food at the camp commissary the diary stated.

On his release from confinement on Sept. 18. he was immediately put back in solitary for another 15 days. Fellow prisoners demonstrated in protest and threatened to react even more violently unless a petition they addressed to President Nikolai Podgorny of the Supreme Soviet was delivered. The petition demanded better conditions and a cessation of harsh punishment at the camp.

JEWS IN SOLITARY

According to the diary, many Jews were put in solitary confinement for staging hunger strikes in protest against severe punishment ordered by the camp commandant. One prisoner was put on trial for allegedly passing information on camp conditions to outside sources. The diary says that inmates are punished for such offenses as having a cup of tea during working hours, coming to inspection late or wearing their prison garb in a way that did not suit the guards.

A prisoner surnamed Lichiak was given seven days solitary confinement because he stacked books on shelves instead of under them. Another prisoner, surnamed Basrab, who has spent 23 years in detention, was denied permission to buy food because he complained to the camp authorities that, after suffering two heart attacks, he was unable to perform physical labor, the diary reported.

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