NEW YORK (Dec. 8)
Groups of Jewish refuseniks have been demonstrating for exit visas this week in the Soviet Union, hoping to draw heightened attention to their plight while Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev is in Washington for meetings with President Reagan.
Meanwhile, despite the avowed Soviet policy of glasnost, Soviet police and security forces apparently are increasingly cracking down on these demonstrations.
An estimated 100 refuseniks in several Soviet cities have declared a hunger strike for the duration of the summit meeting, according to Israeli Ambassador to the United States Moshe Arad, who was speaking to the Freedom Sunday rally for Soviet Jews in Washington, D.C.
On Tuesday, about a dozen Moscow refuseniks attempted to demonstrate outside the Foreign Ministry, hoping to meet with officials inside. However, the refuseniks were quickly arrested and charged with illegally demonstrating. Two long-time, active refuseniks, Natasha Khassina and Yuli Kosharovsky, were also charged with physically resisting arrest.
Lynn Singer, executive director of the Long Island Committee for Soviet Jewry, said the police provided “witnesses” to “prove” the charge of resisting arrest. She added that the charges, or “protocols,” can be used against these people any time for further arrests.
An additional participant, Alexander Feldman, a religious Jew, was arrested and released later Tuesday.
Singer said the demonstrators intend to go to the Communist Party headquarters Wednesday to “ask that all protocols be destroyed.”
On Monday, about 30 refuseniks demonstrated at the Central Committee of the Communist Party. It was reported that nine were briefly detained.
On Sunday, refuseniks demonstrated in both Moscow and Leningrad. The Moscow demonstration was broken up by KGB toughs, who arrested at least two Jewish activists and beat several others.
All those arrested were released after several hours’ detention, including an American newsman, Peter Arnett, Moscow bureau chief of Cable News Network.
In Leningrad Sunday, long-time refuseniks Lev and Marina Furman were forcibly arrested with their nine-month-old girl, Aliya. Lev received a jail sentence of 10 days in an unknown prison and Marina was fined 50 rubles. Aliya, who remained with her mother for several hours in jail, was not permitted to eat, according to Singer.
One of the demonstrators, a former prisoner of Zion, told Singer that the Furmans were part of a group of about 12 demonstrators, four of whom were beaten. Three bystanders, brothers Boris and Slava Flasburg and Mark Olchovich, also reportedly were arrested and received 10 days in jail.
Taken from their Moscow apartment and detained for several hours Tuesday were Anatoly and Gali Gennis, in-laws to Kosharovsky, and their three children. They were later released.
It was also reported that the apartments of Khassina and Kosharovsky have been under constant surveillance since Dec. 4, and that refusenik Judit Ratner-Bialy is under house arrest. Bialy was told Dec. 4 she would receive permission to emigrate.
Said one observer to Singer, “Things are so tight, it’s like the old days in Moscow.”