NEW YORK (May. 7)
Alarm over the most intense harassment of Soviet Jews in the past two years was heightened this week by the sentencing yesterday of Moisey Tonkonogi from Odessa to one year in prison on charges of “parasitism” and the arrest of Moshe Zats from Chernovtsy, it was reported by the Greater New York Conference on Soviet Jewry.
Zats was charged with unsubstantiated economic crimes, in an investigation begun when the construction engineer applied to emigrate to Israel in 1979. In Catch-22 fashion. Zats was given a visa that expired before he was able to obtain an appointment for a custom’s inspection. In trying to extend the date of his visa, it was revoked and charges were filed against him. Zats luggage had already been shipped out from his home and his apartment transferred to new owners.
Tonkonogi, who was arrested earlier this week was charged with “parasitism” because he had been unable to find a job since he first applied to emigrate in 1973. A laborer and a member of a low level army unit during his military service, he was denied permission to emigrate on specious grounds of having had access to state secrets. In 1977, he served a 15-day sentence for attempting to discuss the status of his visa application with Ovir officials.
Other Soviet Jewish activists who have become Prisoners of Conscience during the past two months include Shmuel Rosenblit from Toshkent; Ivan Oleinik from Kiev; Igor Guberman from Moscow; and Vladimir Korneyev from Odessa. (See related story P.4)