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Trial of Leningrad Activist Called Latest Blow at Jewish Culture in USSR

The trial of Vladimir Sverdlin, a Leningrad Jewish activist charged with possession of ammunition in his home, is scheduled to open this week, the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry and the Union of Councils for Soviet Jewry reported. They said Sverdlin, a construction engineer who has been out of work since applying for an exit visa, may also be charged with “parasitism.”

The organizations said that two appeals to “world public opinion” have been signed by Leningrad Jews who characterized the trial as the “latest in a chain of persecutions” aimed at stifling Jewish culture in the USSR. Sverdlin is the founder of the Shalom Club, an informal group which meets each Saturday to discuss Jewish culture.

The SSSJ and the UCSJ also reported that another Leningrad activist, Michael Kazanevich received a “last warning” that he could face a two-year prison sentence for “parasitism” or be confined to a mental institution.