NEW YORK (Feb. 15)
Anti-Semitic activity turned to violence last week in the Ukrainian city of Kharkov, according to Soviet press reports.
Jewish apartments were broken into, and about 20 Jews were beaten, although no deaths were reported.
The chief of Kharkov’s Department of Internal affairs was quoted Tuesday in the Moscow newspaper Trud as saying that court proceedings have begun against “several people who took part in the pogroms against Jews in the past week.”
The article also reported that a “great meeting of people who support the democracy movement in Kharkov” took place on Sunday.
The mayor of Kharkov and the Department of Internal Affairs chief promised those at the meeting “that they will stop the activities of all nationalistic organizations and anti-Semitic organizations, like Pamyat, and all incidents will be investigated.”
The article said that “a lot of leaflets with anti-Semitic propaganda appeared in Kharkov during the past year.”
Word of the Kharkov incident reached a United Jewish Appeal delegation visiting the Soviet Union, a UJA spokesman reported from Moscow on Thursday.
The spokesman also reported that several Jews from the city of Baku, in the Soviet republic of Azerbaijan, have sought refuge at Moscow’s Choral Synagogue.
JEWS IN TADJIKISTAN FRIGHTENED
The Jews fled the Azerbaijani capital, he said, because they fear violence directed against them as a result of ethnic tensions between Azerbaijanis and Armenians.
The UJA delegation is in Moscow on a fact-finding trip as part of the organization’s preparation for Operation Exodus, the $420 million fundraising campaign for the resettlement of Soviet Jews in Israel, which is to be launched in April.
In their meetings with Soviet Foreign Ministry officials, the UJA delegation called for Soviet leaders to speak out against anti-Semitism, in order to calm the panic in the Jewish community.
Meanwhile, the ethnic violence that rocked Tadjikistan this week brought no physical harm to the Soviet Asian republic’s estimated 22,000 to 25,000 Jews, according to early reports reaching the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry.
But a Jewish resident of Dushanbe, where much of the violence took place, reported by phone that the Jewish community was frightened.
The grass-roots advocacy group obtained its information from the Caucasus Network, which focuses on Jews in the Caucasus and central Asia.
The Trud article on the events in Kharkov was obtained and translated by the Long Island Committee for Soviet Jewry.
The committee received a skeptical reaction to the Trud article from Natasha Khassina, a former refusenik now living in Jerusalem.
“How will they be able to investigate? Who will they be able to investigate?” she asked, referring to the Kharkov’s mayor’s pledge to look into the anti-Semitic violence.
“We know that is a tactic that has been used for the past 75 years, and we know that no one has ever been brought to trial or sentenced for anti-Semitism,” she said.