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More Jews Sentenced to Death in Soviet Union for ‘economic Crimes’

November 26, 1962
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Two Soviet Jews were sentenced to death, two others were given heavy prison sentences, and a number of other Russian Jews were sentenced to shorter Jail terms, all charged with so-called “economic crimes,” according to information received here from the USSR today.

The Lvovskaya Pravda, a local organ of the Communist Party in Lvov, in the Ukraine, received here, reported that the death sentences for alleged “embezzlement and bribery” were meted out to O.M. Kitaygorodsky and S.G. Skelnik. L.P. Weizmann was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment in the same mass trial, at Lvow, while R.M. Furman, the fourth Jew named, was given an 11-year prison term. The Communist newspaper described all of the defendants as “wolves. “

The Guardian of Manchester reported at the same time about a long and rare article dealing with the situation of Russian Jewry that has appeared in the Moscow News, an English-language propaganda periodical published in the Soviet capital. Evidently reacting to foreign criticism’s against the Soviet Union’s policy of repressions against Jews, the article was presumably a “reply” to an inquiry from a person called “Joseph Hoffman of the United States.”

The article stressed that some of the USSR’s leading scientists are Jews, including among these the recent recipient of the Nobel Prize in physics, Dr. Lev Davidevitch Landau. It also noted that Veniamin E. Dymshits, Just chosen head of the USSR’s new and powerful Economical Council, is a Jew. A Deputy Premier of the USSR, Mr. Dymshits holds the highest post given to any Russian Jew since Lazar M. Kaganovich was removed from the Kremlin leadership over disagreements with Premier Khrushchev.


The author of the Moscow News article was identified as Avrom Gontar, a member of the editorial board of Sovietisch Heimland, a bi-monthly published in Moscow in Yiddish. The article stated that 427, 000 of the USSR’s 2, 268, 000 Jews have “higher or secondary specialized education” and “are employed in various fields.” The article claimed that nearly 10 per cent of Soviet writers and journalists are Jews, while “more than 10 per cent of the lawyers are Jews.”

According to the Moscow News article, more than 7, 500 Jews are deputies in local governmental bodies, while some are deputies in the national legislatures of the Ukraine, Byelorussia, Lithuania and other Soviet Republics, reaching even into the USSR’s Supreme Soviet.

The article declared that more than 470, 000 Soviet Jews consider Yiddish their native tongue, stating that Sovietisch Heimland is published “especially for those who speak Yiddish.” The periodical is issued in 25, 000 copies, the report stated.

The Guardian, commenting on the Moscow News article, cited the convictions and severe punishment, including death sentences, for economic crimes during the year in Russia, which included a high proportion of Jews. The Guardian also noted consistent reports of closure of synagogues, prohibition of matzoh baking for last Passover and the recent incident in which a large ring of alleged swindlers, apparently almost all of them Jews, had gone on trial in Moldavia.

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