NEW YORK (Jun. 21)
Vladimir Slepak and Ida Nudel, two of the leading Jewish activists in Moscow, were sentenced separately today to “internal exile,” presumably in Siberia, for “malicious hooliganism,” the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry and the Union of Councils for Soviet Jews reported here. They said Slepak was given a five-year sentence and Ms. Nudel four years.
Neither of the two had lawyers for their trials which were held in different parts of Moscow in courts in the district where they live, according to a spokesman for the SSSJ and the UCSJ. Reportedly, it was also the first time that neither relatives nor friends of the defendants were permitted into the courtrooms.
The SSSJ and UCSJ said Nudel refused to enter the courtroom until her friends were allowed in. They were not and she was dragged inside, according to the two groups here.
Slepak and his wife, Maria, were arrested June I by Soviet plainclothesmen who broke into their apartment after the couple displayed a banner from their balcony demanding reunion with their son in Israel. Although Mrs. Slepak was also charged with “malicious hooliganism,” she was released after becoming ill. No date has been set for her trial.
Nudel, known as the “guardian angel” of the Soviet Jewish Prisoners of Conscience, was arrested June 2 as she and 13 other Jewish activists demonstrated against the arrest of the Slepaks in Pushkin Square outside the apartment building where the Slepaks live. All 14 demonstrators were arrested but 13 were released. Only Nudel was charged.
Slepak, a 50-year-old electrical engineer, has been seeking a visa to emigrate to Israel for eight years. He is a member of the group of Soviet activists and dissidents who are monitoring Moscow’s compliance with the human rights provisions of the Helsinki accords. Nudel has also been seeking an emigration visa for eight years.
‘GIANT LEAP BACKWARD’ BY SOVIETS
In response to news from Moscow, Eugene Gold, chairman of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry, declared that the “Sentences handed out in Moscow today against Vladimir Slepak and Ida Nudel indicate that the USSR has taken a giant leap backward, regressing to trials against freedom, as a warning against those other activists attempting to leave the USSR. Both Nudel and Slepak are symbols of the thousands of Jews who are casually denied exit visas, dismissed from jobs, followed and harassed by the KGB and subject to arrest and imprisonment at any moment.”