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Crackdown Begins on Soviet Jewish Underground Journal

The long-feared crackdown on the Russian Jewish underground journal “Jews in the USSR” has evidently begun with the arrest of one of its editors, Moscow refusnik Igor Guberman, according to the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry (SSSJ) and Union of Councils for Soviet Jews (UCSJ).

Guberman, a 43-year-old writer of popular science articles for young people, has been accused under Article 208 of the RSFSR Criminal Code of dealing in icons stolen from a church near Moscow. He could face seven years’ imprisonment followed by five years’ internal exile and confiscation of his property.

The SSSJ and UCSJ said Jewish activists believed Guberman, who was twice refused an exit visa since he applied last December, was “set up” on a criminal charge to hide the political nature of his arrest. He is known in Moscow as an icon collector and an authority on olden religious art. But realizing that his connection with the Jewish “samizdat” could lead to trouble, he stopped purchasing icons three years ago.

The editors of Jews in the USSR, who list their names on each issue to proclaim their belier that its publication is within Soviet law, have been harassed since its inception in 1973. Twenty issues of the typewritten journal have come out since then. A new wave of pressure began at the end of 1978, with KGB raids on the homes of editors in Moscow, Leningrad and Riga, and attempts to recruit informers among its contributors, promising rewards as trips abroad, the Soviet Jewry groups reported.

The SSSJ and UCSJ said that the content of Jews in the USSR is largely-non-political, concentrating on articles on Jewish life and lore. Some are written by Jewish activists; others are translated from Western publications.

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