NEW YORK (Nov. 4)
Vlodimir Tsukerman, a 35-year-old electronics engineer whose wife and son live in Israel, who was arrested in Kishinev Oct. 29 after signing an appeal protesting the continued refusal of the Soviet authorities to allow him and other Kishinev Jews to join their families in Israel, was sentenced today to 15 days in prison, the National Conference on Soviet Jewry (NCSJ) reported. He was charged with “hooliganism.”
Tsukerman was one of six emigration activists in Kishinev who signed the appeal addressed to the participants in the second review conference on the Helsinki Accords which opens in Madrid Nov. 11. The signatories announced that they will start a hunger strike on that date to dramatize their plight and that of other Soviet Jews denied the right to emigrate. A similar appeal was signed by 27 refusniks in Riga.
The Kishinev group stated: “Each one of us had completed his army service nine years ago and at no time did we have access to secret information. We have begged, we have asked, we’ve inquired and still we are no further in our desire to be reunited with our families.
“Thus we have decided to exercise the only thing left to us to do and go on a hunger strike which will begin on the opening day of the Madrid conference and which will last for as long as the conference lasts …. No matter what happens to us we are counting on your support and we are appealing to your conscience to help free us from our bondage.”
In addition to Tsukerman, the signatories were: Grigory Leiderman, 35, an electronics engineer, whose parents are in Israel; David Vodovoz, 29, a driver whose parents are in Israel; Aleksandr Lezerovich, 33, an engineer, whose wife and daughter are in Israel; and Aleksandr Khozin, 33, a computer engineer, whose parents are in Israel.
The participants in the hunger strike have been active for a long time in Jewish culture and educational activities in Kishinev. As a result, they have been slandered repeatedly in the local newspaper, “Sovietskaya Moldavia,” and recently singled out as “aides to American imperialists.” According to the NCSJ, such attacks may pave the way to subsequent arrests and trials.