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Moscow, Leningrad Refuseniks Plea for Release of Physicist Held After Writing Letter Seeking Exit Vi

June 8, 1984
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Scores of refuseniks in Moscow and Leningrad have appealed to Soviet authorities for the release of Zakhar Zunshain, a Jewish physicist from Riga who was arrested there last March 6 and charged with the “circulation of fabrications known to be false which defame the Soviet state and social system.”

The appeal and an accompanying statement, dated March 19 and April 5 respectively, were released here by the National Conference on Soviet Jewry and the National Lawyers Committee for Soviet Jewry. The documents point out that the charges of “circulation” and defamation against the 33 year-old Riga refusenik stemmed solely from the content of letters he addressed to the Soviet authorities in increasingly desperate efforts to obtain exit permits for himself and his wife, Tatyana, which have been denied them since 1980.

Zunshain, who is being held incommunicado in a Riga prison, faces up to three years in a Labor camp if convicted. He and his wife have suffered persistent harassment, according to the NCSJ. He has repeatedly asked to renounce his Soviet citizenship and emigrate to Israel to join relatives there.

The appeal on behalf of Zunshain was addressed to the Soviet Procurator General, Aleksandr Rekunkov and the Latvian Procurator, Janis Dzenitis. It points out that Zunshain’s efforts to get permission to emigrate resulted in the charges against him. It also notes that Zunshain was ill at the time of his arrest and “according to the warrant shown him, there was no requirement that he be immediately arrested.”

The appeal cited “the peculiarity of the judicial investigation at hand” inasmuch as the alleged defamation of the Soviet State was contained in his letters pressing his case for emigration under Soviet law, the addresees of which were the same authorities who ordered his arrest.

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