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Ginzburg Urges Need to Win Release of Leningrad ‘Hi- Jacking’ Prisoners

June 6, 1980
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Former Soviet dissident Alexander Ginzburg came here this week to remind the New York State legislators that 10 years after the Leningrad hijacking trials in the Soviet Union, there are still three men imprisoned for the "crime."

"Today, the only hope for their release lies on your behalf," Ginzburg, speaking in Russian through an interpreter, told about 150 people, including some 30 legislators. He spoke at the invitation of Sen. Manfred Ohrenstein (D-Manhattan), to encourage the passage of a resolution urging Gov. Hugh Carey "in designate June 1980 ‘A Month of Conscience’ to remember Soviet citizens denied the right to emigrate and urge our fellow citizens and legislators to call upon our President to intercede on their behalf."

Ginzburg, a human rights activist in the USSR for 20 years, was released from a Soviet later camp on April 27, 1979, along with four other political prisoners, in exchange for two convicted Russian spies held in an American prison. He devoted most of his speaking time to the plight of other dissidents still in Soviet prisons.

Yuri Federov and Alexei Murzhenko, two of the three men still being held for the alleged attempt to hijack a plane to Israel 10 years ago, were Ginzburg’s bunk mates in a Mondovian prison camp, he said. Federov, a practicing Russian Orthodox Christian, has been punished for insisting on wearing a cross in the camp. Murzhenko, also a Christian, has been in and out of prison for his political activities which culminated with the alleged hijacking effort.

The third prisoner, losif Mendelovich, a Jew, has persisted in strict observance of Jewish law at the camp, despite additional hardship and suffering imposed on him, according to reports.

Ginzburg also discussed human rights activist Ida Nudel, now in exile in Siberia, and imprisoned Anatoly Shcharansky and Vladimir Slepak, members of the Moscow Helsinki Watch Group, a citizens’ organization committed to monitoring the Soviet Union’s adherence to the humanitarian provisions, of the Helsinki Accords.

"I cannot rest until my friends are at liberty, he said. "I myself was torn out of prison by American public opinion. Today the only hope for my friends’ liberation lies in your support of their behalf."

JERUSALEM (JTA) An American delegation is due in Israel at the beginning of next month to discuss details of the oil agreement between the two countries.

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