Soviets Reportedly Using ‘draft Evasion’ to Deny Exit Visas

Jewish activists here and abroad are concerned about the apparent crackdown on Soviet Jewish young men who are of military age and who apply to emigrate to Israel, according to the National Conference on Soviet Jewry (NCSJ). The latest incident, concerning the plight of Gregory Geishis, 20, of Leningrad, indicates that the Soviet government is, once again, using the pretext of “draft evasion” to imprison young men who wish to leave the country. In recent years, several young men have been incarcerated for the same reason, the latest one being Boris Kalendarov, who is serving a two-year sentence in a labor camp.

Geishis, who was expelled from a university in Leningrad, was scheduled to appear before his local draft board on May 12. Instead of appearing at the draft office, he delivered a formal statement to the Military Commissar of his district stating why he would not serve in the army. He specifically cited that he was refused permission to emigrate because of his mother’s alleged access to classified information. Therefore, because he did not want to be privy to state secrets, Geishis told them that he did not want to serve in the army.

Subsequently, the draft office held an inquiry, questioning Geishis for over 45 minutes. The NCSJ learned that the line of questioning leveled against him was demoralizing and humiliating, with shouts of “traitor” resounding through the office.

Following the inquiry, the procurator’s office started a criminal file of draft evasion against Geishas. Since he is out of town, his parents were summoned by the procurator’s office and informed of the specific charge brought against their son under. Article 80 of the Russian Republic Criminal Code. If convicted he faces the deprivation of freedom for a term of one to three years.”

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