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1982 a Bad Year for Pocs, Refuseniks in Soviet Union

January 3, 1983
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Theodore Mann, chairman of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry, announced at the year’s end that "deterioration in virtually all facets of Soviet Jewish life occurred" in 1982, most notably in the continuing drop in the the number of Jews permitted to emigrate with Israeli visas. "This decline in emigration was accompanied by a wave of threats and arrests of Jewish activists, and the heightened oppression of Jewish culture and religion," Mann reported. At the some time, he noted, "three Jewish prisoners, all of them active in emigration efforts prior to their arrests, completed their sentences."

Mann, a Philadelphia attorney reported that "the total number of exit visas granted to Jews last year fell to over 2,600, representing an unprecedented 95% drop from the 51,320 exit permits granted in 1979, the peak year for Jewish emigration. The nearly 110 visas issued to Jews who arrived in Vienna, in December, marked the lowest monthly figure recorded since the current phase of emigration began in 1971. These drastically low figures, at the year’s end, left an estimated 400,000 Jews who have shown on interest in reaching their homeland with little hope for the new year," Mann said.


Exacerbating this "tightening of the reins on emigration," Mann maintained, were several arrests of Jews seeking to leave for Israel, most recently Novosibirsk activist Feliks Kochubievsky, who received a two and half year labor comp sentence, and former POC Losif Begun, who was exiled twice before, and was again arrested and threatened with an unprecedented third trial and a long term in a labor camp. Mann observed that although former POC Evgeny Lein was released from labor camp in mid-year, he too was threatened with re-arrest.

"These arrests and threats nurture fear among the refuseniks throughout the Soviet Union — the fear that not only will the fulfillment of their dreams of emigrating to Israel be stunted indefinitely, but that their lives will be constantly disrupted by the KGB (security forces) and by the misuse of the law practiced by Soviet authorities," he stated.


According to Mann, "the status of two Jewish POCs was altered significantly this past year" indicating "no change in the unending abuses inflicted on Jews already suffering under the Soviet penal system," Anatoly Shcharansky, sentenced in 1978 to 13 years of imprisonment, under took a hunger strike in September to protest his isolation by the authorities. Sentenced in 1981 to three years in a labor camp, Aleksandr Paritsky was transferred in December to a strict prison environment as further punishment.

"Although three Jewish POCs– lda Nudel, Boris Chernobilsky and Vladimir Slepak — were released from exile or prison," he asserted, "they are being punished again, and their futures are dim as they are thrust back into the emotionally physically-draining difficulties of refusenik life. Nudel, who left her Siberian exile in March, following completion of a four-year term, was finally granted permission to reside in Bendery (Moldavian Republic), after nine months of wandering from city to city. Both Chernobilsky and Slepak returned to Moscow, after completing their sentences of one-year in a labor camp and five-years exile, respectively. Slepak, who in the late 60’s was one of the creators of the current emigration activities, had at one time been singled out by President Jimmy Carter for public recognition. He first applied to go to Israel in 1970.

A former public member of the U.S. delegation to the current Madrid Conference to review compliance with the Helsinki Final Act, Mann found the emigration of several long-term refuseniks "a blessing, but, nevertheless, a vivid reminder that the gates have closed to over 10,000 refuseniks who pray that their requests to emigrate will miraculously be approved and the gates will not lock them into lives of oppression."

Among the long-term refuseniks who received visas in 1982 were: former POC Amner Zavurov, Shmuel Shvartsband, Zigmund Rozental, Grigory Freiman, Oleg Popov, and Vladimir and Hanna Magarik.

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