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Soviet Jewry Activists in Force As Gorbachev Arrives in London

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London Jewish Chronicle

As Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev arrived here Wednesday for talks with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Soviet Jewry activists were warned by a former refusenik that last month’s historic elections in the Soviet Union could spell danger for Jews.

“The situation is about to deteriorate, and we cannot exclude the possibility of bloodshed,” Roald Zelichonok said here.

Zelichonok, who immigrated to Israel in January, said that defeated candidates and their supporters would be looking for scapegoats –“and Jews are the classic scapegoats.”

Over 6 percent of the electorate in some areas of Leningrad, one of the most Western-oriented Soviet cities, voted for an anti-Semitic organization. The percentage in other cities was probably higher, he said.

Zelichonok condemned the spirit of euphoria in the West about the situation in the Soviet Union. The real picture is far removed from that presented in the media, he warned.

From the moment Gorbachev arrived on Wednesday, Soviet Jewry demonstrators made their presence known. A vigil was mounted opposite the Soviet Embassy, where the Soviet leader is staying.

Celebrities held a “refusenik roll-call” throughout the day at the entrance to 10 Downing Street, where Gorbachev was having talks with Thatcher. Participating were stage and screen stars, as well as members of Parliament.

Over 200 members of Parliament signed a full-page advertisement in The Times of London on Wednesday criticizing the Soviet Union for “continued abuse of human rights.”

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