Poc Released Halfway Through His Three-year Term in a Labor Camp

A Soviet Jewish Prisoner of Conscience, Roald Zelichonok of Leningrad, has been released early from a labor camp and the Soviet Supreme Court may review the case of another POC, Vladimir Lifschitz.

The freeing of Zelichonok half way through his three-year term in a labor camp in the Kazakh region was apparently the result of a decree issued by the government last week ordering the release of several dozen political prisoners.

The decree, issued by the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, appears to apply mainly to prisoners serving time under Article 70 of the Russian Republic’s criminal code which prohibits “anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda.” According to some of the prisoners released, the decree named 51 people to be freed. More than 40 have been identified so far. Many of these freed were serving their sentences in the notorious Perm labor camp in the Ural Mountains.

Those released included artists, scientists, clerics, Jews and Ukrainian nationalists. There was no immediate indication of which Jewish POC’s, in addition to Zelichonok, were released. Some who were freed said they had to sign agreements not to violate Soviet laws in the future as a condition of their release.

Zelichonok, 50, an electrical engineer, was sentenced in August 1985 for “defamation of the Soviet state and social system.” He and his wife Galina first applied to emigrate in 1978.

Lifschitz, 45, a mathematician and economist from Leningrad, was sentenced last month to three years in a labor camp in the closed far eastern region of Kamchatka.

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