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Congressmen Appeal to Brezhnev for 2 Jews Facing Death Penalty

June 6, 1980
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Twenty-four members of Congress sent cables yesterday to Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev on behalf of two Jews who may be executed this week for “economic crimes,” according to the National Conference on Soviet Jewry (NCSJ).

Rafael Adzhiashvill, 49, from Tblisi, and Mamed Abasov from Baku were sentenced to death in August 1978 for the alleged stealing of factory surplus textile for resale.

The NCSJ, which is urging public officials to send off appeals immediately, has received rumors that the men may already be dead, according to a spokesperson, but these are unconfirmed. “We’re going on the assumption that they’re still alive,” the spokesperson said.

Among those sending appeals were Sens. Robert Dole (R. Kans.), Edward Kennedy (D. Mass.) and Carl Levin (D. Mich.), and Reps. Stephen Solarz (D. NY.) Edward Stack (D. Fla.), Richard Ottinger (D. NY) and Henry Waxman (D. Calif.).

The sentenced men went on trial with 53 co-defendants — all but eight were Jewish. Although the prosecutor asked for sentences of 10-15 years for all of the defendants, four received death verdicts. Two of the four condemned Jews, Gabriel Seplashvill and llya Mikhalshvill, had their sentences commuted to 15 years in jail after appealing to the Supreme Soviet in the USSR.

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