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Former Colleague Calls Brailovsky Arrest by Soviet ‘test Case’

The case of Viktor Brailovsky, the renowned Soviet cyberneticist and Jewish activist and refusnik arrested in Moscow on November 13, is a “test case for the entire future of Soviet Jewry,” according to Brailovsky’s former colleague, Prof, Mark Azbel. Azbel is now a professor of physics at Tel Aviv University, having himself struggled long and hard before being allowed to leave the Soviet Union.

He told newsmen here today that Brailovsky’s case was unique and therefore fateful for the whole Jewish activist and aliya movement, because he was the first scientist-refusnik whom the Soviets had arrested specifically for Jewish activities.

Currently held at the notorious Butyerki prison, Brailovsky has been told he was arrested and will be charged for “anti-Soviet slander” on the basis of his activity as editor of the publication “Jews in the USSR.” This is a typewritten journal, first published in 1972. Since then, 20 issues have been published all dealing exclusively with Jewish culture, history and religion. It is strictly nonpolitical.

Other refusnik-scientists are usually barred from emigrating on the grounds — more often than not spurious — that they have acquired sensitive scientific information in the course of their work. The majority of those arrested are charged with “parasitism” or anti-Soviet activities deriving from their involvement with the “Helsinki Group” or other human rights activities.

Azbel said the Soviets have deliberately moved against Brailovsky during the period of the Madrid Conference and the U.S. Presidential “interregnum” in order to establish a precedent. If world opinion failed to pressure the Kremlin to drop the charges Soviet Jewry would become “The Jews of Silence” again within a year, and all activism would cease, the scientist warned.

He appeared at a news conference arranged by the Israel public Council for Soviet Jewry. Also present were Knesset member Micho Harish and Israeli scientist Arye Dvoretzky.

Azbel and his colleagues on the Public Council appealed to Israeli, Jewish and other enlightened opinion to fight for Brailovsky.

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