Behind the Headlines the Plight of Eduard Kuznetsov
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Behind the Headlines the Plight of Eduard Kuznetsov

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The wife of a Jewish Prisoner of Conscience read out a brief extract from a diary by her husband smuggled from the Soviet labor camp where he is serving 15 years for his part in the 1970 hijack plot of Jews trying to get out to Israel.

Silva Zalmanson, wife of Eduard Kuznetsov, said yesterday that the diary, written on toilet paper between 1975 and 1977, had reached her 15 months ago. An earlier prison diary by Kuznetsov was published in 1973. The extract read out said:

“There is only a very slight chance that this will get out. In the last two months, I have had 150 searches, including naked body searches. My palliasse was ripped, the covers were torn from my books; my boots were examined and my notebooks and all my letters confiscated. Mine detectors were used on the walls of my cell. I was in an ice cold sweat each time they approached my secret hiding place.”

Kuznetsov is one of the original people involved in the 1970 Leningrad trial. Silva Zalmanson herself was released after serving half of her 10-year sentence. Five more of the group have recently been freed. They include her brother Vulf, whom Silva will meet in Vienna on Monday. Another brother, Israel, was also been released.


Kuznetsov, who is one of the five still in prison, has another six years and two months to serve. Still only 38, he had already spent seven years as a political prisoner (from 1961 to 1968). He was given the death sentence in 1970, which was commuted to 15 years after world-wide protests. He has had no visitors for five years but is allowed to write to Silva every two months. His aunt is Elana Bonner, the wife of Soviet academician Andrei Sakharov.

Silva claims that when she was in London 15 months ago, the Soviet Ambassador, Nikolai Lunkov, said she would be allowed a temporary visa to visit Kuznetsov. She has not yet received one and yesterday appealed to Lunkov to keep his promise.

She is in London as a guest of “Conscience,” an interdenominational committee for Soviet Jewish prisoners. Next Sunday evening, the actor Edward Fox (who starred in “Day of the Jackal”) will give a public reading of more extracts from the new Kuznetsov diary.

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