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Soviet Target Jewish Community in Odessa

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The Jewish community in Odessa has become the focus of a wave of persecution spreading across the Soviet Union, the Greater New York Conference On Soviet Jewry reported today. Jewish activists from Odessa are the latest to be caught up in the current wave of Soviet persecution.

Mark Nepomniashchy, a 53-year-old electrical engineer, and Yakov Mesh, a 32-year-old tailor, were arrested last week and the Conference reported that the Soviets are spreading rumors that a “Zionist group has been uncovered. “The third key activist in Yakov Levin, who has been detained since August 10.

While visiting Moscow, Nepomniashchy was arrested and charged with “defaming the Soviet State” under article 187-1 of the Ukrainian Criminal Code, a crime which carries a maximum sentence of three years. Because he is deaf, the prosecutor has apparently agreed to let Nepomniashchy to have a lawyer present during the preliminary investigation. His daughter’s fiance, Levin, may face the same charge. The Nepomiashchy family has been waiting since 1979 to emigrate to Israel.

The KGB has also cited their investigation of Levin, as an excuse to search the homes and disrupt the lives of refuseniks Polina Green of Tiraspol, Aharon Munblit of Kishinev, and Moisey Liberman of Bendery, the Conference reported.

The Soviets are continuing to hold Mesh at the Odessa police station and are expected to charge him with “refusing to provide testimony” and “resisting the authorities.” Mesh, who applied to emigrate in 1978, was arrested following a dispute with police during which he was severely beaten.

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