NEW YORK (Oct. 25)
Soviet police today arrested 25 of the 52 Moscow Jews who demonstrated in a building of the Supreme Soviet last week to demand an explanation of why their visa applications have been consistently rejected, the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry reported.
According to the SSSJ, the activists were seized by Soviet police outside their homes, in the streets and in a reception room of the Supreme Soviet where petitioners normally gather. Among them was Vladimir Slepak, a radio and television engineer who is the leader of the Jewish emigration activists in the Soviet Union.
The SSSJ also reported that three of the four Jews arrested at a Moscow demonstration Thursday have been sentenced to 15-day jail terms for “hooliganism.” They are Arkady Polishuck, Mikhail Kremen and Victor Yelistratov. The status of the fourth, Boris Chernobilosky, was unknown today.
The arrests in Moscow today were the aftermath of a march by 52 Jewish “refusniks” through Moscow last Thursday from the Ministry of Interior to the Supreme Soviet. The marchers wearing large yellow stars, said they had received “absolutely unsatisfactory answers” from interior Minister Nikolai Shcholokov and an official of the Central Committee of the Supreme Soviet as to why they are denied visas.
Shcholokov had agreed to meet with a delegation of activists following the beatings, but according to the SSSJ refused to discuss them because “I am not responsible for the security of the Supreme Soviet,” A bout 30 Jews sat in at the Supreme Soviet building last Friday to protest Thursday’s arrests.
PROTESTS, RALLIES AGAINST ARRESTS
The National Conference on Soviet Jewry termed the arrests a “disturbing escalation” by Soviet authorities of punitive measures against those petitioning for their right to emigrate. Eugene Gold, NCSJ chairman, urged the Soviet government to immediately release those arrested. “Obviously, this act is a flagrant violation of the Helsinki Final Act which guarantees the free movement of people, ideas and information.” he said.
Sen, James L. Buckley (R-C NY) said in a statement issued here today that “Last week’s vicious beatings of Jewish protestors by Moscow police confirms our worst suspicions of the Helsinki Accords, recent trade agreements and the stated objectives of the policy of detente.” The conservative Senator, who is seeking re-election, likened the beatings to “the darkest days of Nazi Germany.”
Meanwhile, the Greater New York Conference on Soviet Jewry and the SSSJ organized a demonstration outside the offices of Aeroflot, the Soviet airline here, to protest the physical assaults on Jews by Moscow police agents.
A “Freedom Squad” wrapped in bandages and walking on crutches picketed the airline office. Bronx Borough President Robert Abrams, chairman of the GNYCSJ denounced the “savage beatings” of Jewish activists in a woods outside Moscow last week. “This latest episode involving Jews seeking to emigrate from the Soviet Union clearly demonstrates that the USSR will even resort to the use of hired thugs and secret police to terrify and to discourage those who want to leave that country.” Abrams told newsmen.
The SSSJ reported in a related development that the sons of two Moscow demonstrators began a hunger strike in front of the Aeroflot office. Their fathers, Lev Blitshtein, 46, an engineer and Boris Fishkin, 49, an economist, began a hunger strike in Moscow in a bid to gain exit visas to join their families who emigrated from the Soviet Union two years ago.
The SSSJ also reported from Detroit that Rep. William M. Brodhead (D.Mich.) telephoned Jewish activist Moshe Mager in Vinnitsa today to pledge support for his efforts to reunite with his wife and family in Israel. The SSSJ said the call was occasioned by Mager’s 31st birthday.