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Soviet Jew May Face Trial on Charges of ‘defaming the State’

Naum Salensky whose home is the site of the regularly held Jewish cultural seminar in Vilne, is being investigated by Soviet authorities on charges which could mean three years imprisonment, according to the Greater New York Conference on Soviet Jewry. The leading activist, who holds a doctorate in physics, has been told not to leave the Vilna area until the authorities complete their investigation. His mother, dying of cancer in Israel, has sent numerous appeals to Soviet authorities to be reunited with her son.

In recent weeks, Salensky’s home has been searched and personal effects and papers have been confiscated. He has been called in for lengthy interrogations by the KGB, and has expressed fears for his personal safety. Salensky is being investigated for violation of Article 190-1 of the criminal code.

The Soviet Criminal Code, on which the Lithuanian code is modelled, states that Article 190-1 entails, “The systematic circulation in an oral form of fabrication known to be false which defame the Soviet state and social systems” Also included is “the preparation or circulation in written…. form of works” of similar content. Violation of the Article is punishable by three years imprisonment.

Robert Abrams, Conference chairman, said: “If Mr. Salensky goes to trial, it will be the first trial of a Jewish activist in nine months. Just two months ago. Western pressure brought about the unprecedented release of two Moscow activists who faced five years imprisonment. We must do all in our power to keep Salensky out of prison and indeed, to secure for him the right to rejoin his ailing mother in Israel.”

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