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Kiev Refusenik Gets 4-year Jail Term

Kiev refusenik losif Berenshtein, charged with allegedly “resisting arrest,” was convicted and sentenced to four years imprisonment on December 10, the National Conference on Soviet Jewry learned today. The maximum penalty for the charge is five years. Berenshtein, a 47-year-old engineer, was arrested on November 12 while in nearby Novograd Vilinsky to answer allegations of economic crimes made against his aunt, which have since been dropped.

The NCSJ’s Lawyers Committee noted that the warrant for this arrest was dated November 13, leaving questions concerning the legality of the procedure, as well as the initial grounds for his arrest. Since his arrest Berenshtein’s wife, Faina, and his daughter have been threatened with similar action.

According to the NCSJ, Kiev is a city tightly controlled by the KGB. Hebrew teachers and emigration activists, in particular, have faced constant harassment there since 1980. Kiev is also a city where foreign visitors have been interrogated and physically abused in recent years.