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Soviet Jews Fear New Crackdown After 4 Georgian Jews Sentenced to Death

Death sentences imposed earlier this month by a Ukrainian court in Donetsk on four Georgian Jews was clearly an act of anti-Semitism, a spokesman for the “Shomer Achi Anochi” (I Am My Brother’s keeper) said here. The four condemned men were among 56 persons, non-Jews and Jews, who worked in a textile factory near Baku on the Caspian Sea. They were tried on a series of “economic crimes,” including a charge of having stolen government property.

Fifty of the defendants were sentenced to prison terms of up to 15 years. Another two died of heart attacks during the three years in which all the accused were held incommunicado in a Soviet prison. The trial itself was held in camera.

Lea Slovin, a Russian immigrant lawyer, told a press conference in Jerusalem yesterday that this was not merely an “economic crimes” trial but one aimed directly at Jews. Non-Jews in the trial who were accused of the same charge received sentences of 10 or 15 years. Slovin noted that the prosecutor had not requested the death penalty for any of the accused. This had been done by the judge, presumably on orders from Moscow, she said. An appeal has been filed.

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