NEW YORK (Jul. 23)
Aleksandr Yakir, a 29-year-old Jewish refusenik from Moscow, is scheduled to go on trial August 2 on charges of “draft evasion,” according to the National Conference on Soviet Jewry (NCSJ).
Yakir was arrested on June 18. Threatened with induction into the army since his graduation from the Moscow Technical Institute in 1977, he now faces three years imprisonment.
In a highly unusual action for those arrested for non-violent crimes, the NCSJ reported today that Yakir was held in Moscow’s Butyrka Prison pending trial rather than merely having to sign a statement pledging not to leave Moscow.
The charge of draft evasion is commonly used by Soviet authorities against young, would-be emigrants. Yakir’s service in the military could prolong for perhaps five years the waiting period for approval of his application to emigrate on grounds of “state security.”
The Yakir family has been waiting since 1973 for permission to emigrate to Israel. The NCSJ reported that the Yakir family believes that they have been denied permission to leave the Soviet Union because Aleksandr’s grandfather and great-uncle were generals in the Soviet Army, both of whom were later shot during the Stalinist purges.
Another relative, Aleksandr’s uncle, Pietr, was jailed after a show trial in 1972 for documenting abuses of political prisoners in the Soviet Union.