Leningrad Hebrew Teacher Arrested

Leningrad refusenik Roald Zelichonok, was arrested on June 11 and charged with “defaming the Soviet State,” in reaction to appeal and letters he wrote to the West, including a recent plea to participate in the Human Rights Expert Conference in Ottawa, according to the Coalition to Free Soviet Jews.

Zelichonok, an electrical engineer and Hebrew teacher who has been active in pro-emigration and Jewish culture circles since 1978, had encountered harassment by the KGB beginning in 1980 when he was ordered to stop teaching Hebrew, the Coalition said. The 48-year-old refusenik has continually been persecuted with Jewish books and private letters being confiscated from his home, an anti-Zionist documentary being aired in Leningrad last November accusing Zelichonok of taking bribes from “Zionist” tourists from abroad, and ultimately his arrest.

Herbert Kronish, chairman of the Coalition, said, “The pace of arrests and imprisonments is increasing at a frightening level,” with Hebrew teachers bearing the brunt of the imprisonments. “When coupled with the bleak emigration figure of 51 for May, ” Kronish noted, “it becomes clear that the Soviet government is waging a brutal battle against Jewish religion, culture, and emigration.”

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