NEW YORK (Nov. 26)
A group of Jewish activists demonstrating Tuesday near the Moscow emigration office, as well as several Western journalists covering their protest, were beaten up by a group of bystanders with the apparent complicity of Soviet security agents.
Four of the Jewish activists were arrested by police and given prison sentences ranging from seven to 15 days, while others were fined up to $65, according to reports reaching Soviet Jewry organizations here.
The protest lasted no more than three or four minutes and ended after some 50 individuals, reportedly bussed to the scene by Soviet police, rushed the Jewish demonstrators, ripping posters from their hands. The mob also assaulted camera crews from the ABC, CBS, CNN and NBC television networks, cutting camera wires and throwing snow on camera lenses.
DRAGGED, KICKED AND BEATEN
The demonstrators were dragged from the scene to waiting police buses and then kicked and beaten, according to news reports from Moscow.
A Leningrad refusenik, variously identified with the family name of Goldin or Goldman, was sentenced to 15 days in prison. Refusenik Mark Kogan of Minsk and two Leningrad refuseniks, Igor Chernoschwartz and Valery Fyoderov, received sentences of seven to 10 days.
Moscow refuseniks Alexander Gashunin, Mikhail Losiev, Vladimir Meshkov and Leonid Travinsky were fined 25 to 50 rubles ($33 to $65) and released, according to reports reaching the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry, the Union of Councils for Soviet Jews and the Coalition to Free Soviet Jews.
According to one report, the demonstration was organized to protest the upcoming forced Soviet army conscription of an 18-year-old Jewish man, Alexander Poberezsky of Moscow. After demobilization, a former soldier and his family are often denied emigration for many years on the grounds that he acquired “state secrets.”
Other sources said the demonstration was organized on behalf of Tatyana Kolchinsky, who has been seeking to emigrate for about nine years.
Rabbi Avraham Weiss, SSSJ national chairman, and Pamela Cohen, UCSJ president, issued a statement condemning the disruption of the protest. They described the police action as “ripping the mask of civility off the face of ‘glasnost’ and exposing the unchanged nature of Kremlin anti-Semitism.”
They said it is “truly tragic” that two weeks before the summit meeting between President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, where human rights will be a major topic of discussion, the Soviets “still cannot permit those denied their right of emigration some expression of free speech.”
Meanwhile, it was learned that a number of Moscow Jewish women denied permission to emigrate will demonstrate in front of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet during the Reagan-Gorbachev meetings.
They and their husbands, who will stay home to avoid further violence, are also expected to go on hunger strikes during the summit.