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Two Jews Face Show Trial in Minsk

May 16, 1973
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A “show trial” will open in Minsk shortly involving Col. Efim Davidovich, a retired Jewish officer of the Red Army, and Gedalya Kipnis, an artist, who is allegedly involved with Davidovich, Jewish sources in Moscow reported today. The sources said that three other Jewish Army officers face charges and that the KGB (secret police) is conducting a wide-ranging investigation of prominent Jews in Minsk.

The charges against Davidovich include disseminating pro-Israel propaganda and Zionist literature, and “other anti-Soviet activities.” Davidovich applied for a visa last fall and the KGB investigation began soon afterwards. Since that time, it was reported, he has suffered four heart attacks and his physical condition is poor.

Kipnis, who had an exit visa and was leaving Russia when he was hauled off the train and arrested at the last border check point, is accused of smuggling a letter out of the country. He is also charged with illegal possession of firearms–a pistol he allegedly gave Davidovich.

The sources said the other Jewish officers under investigation are Col. Lev Obsitcher, Col. Nahum Olshanski and Capt. Boris Alouf. All three had applied for exit visas but were turned down. Obsitcher and Olshanski are both military academy graduates and hold 15 decorations for their service in World War II. Both were demoted to private and had their pensions suspended three years ago after they criticized official anti-Semitism in the USSR.

Meanwhile, several hundred former Minsk Jews now in Israel have appealed to Sen. Vance Hartke (D.Ind.) to intervene on behalf of Davidovich and Kipnis. A petition prepared by the Public Council for Soviet Jewry here was presented to U.S. Attorney Leon Charney, an advisor to Hartke, who is in Israel on a private visit.

Charney promised to relay the petition to the Senator by telephone and said he would fill in the details of the situation of Minsk Jews when he returns home. Hartke was one of a group of seven U.S. Senators who visited Moscow recently and had a long meeting with Soviet Communist Party Secretary Leonid I. Brezhnev.

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