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Soviet Police in Riga Arrest Jews After Concert of Israeli Singer

September 19, 1966
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The American Jewish Conference on Soviet Jewry reported this weekend it had learned that police in Riga, in Soviet Latvia, committed a number of anti-Semitic acts and arrested several Jews after a concert given last July in Riga by Geulah Gil, an Israeli folk singer. Miss Gil toured the Soviet Union last July under a cultural exchange program with Israel.

According to the report, members of the audience at the concert, most of them Jews, crowded the stage entrance at the end of Miss Gil’s concert to get her autograph. Policemen and other security officers moved in to prevent the autograph seekers from reaching Miss Gil. The report was obtained from witnesses whose identities have been withheld for personal reasons, the Conference said.

An incident then developed between Naomi Garber, a 15-year-old Jewish girl, and a police major named Bezkhlebnikov. The report said that the girl responded in a restrained way to a remark by the police major she considered to be anti-Semitic. The police major contended Miss Garber had slapped his face. She was arrested.

Police also reportedly arrested Maxim Kushlim, 23, a Jew charged with having assaulted a police lieutenant named Zayev and a plainclothes detective named Sprugis. Later that night, the witnesses reported, police arrested Mrs. S. Roth, a 45-year-old Jewish woman. She was charged with having incited a riot against police and with having led a delegation to the police station to seek Miss Garber’s release.

On July 14, according to the report, police arrested Mordechai Blum, 28, a Jewish engineer, who was charged with trying to free Miss Garber by force. Police said that Blum had hit a police officer on the head and knocked his cap to the ground.

The report said that police had questioned witnesses at the theater to obtain evidence in support of their charges against the Jews they arrested. But, the report added, the police refused to accept testimony volunteered by Jewish witnesses. Witnesses against Mrs. Roth were policemen and a detective named Popov, who said Mrs. Roth called the police anti-Semites and Gestapo members.

Miss Garber was released later because, as a minor, she was not considered responsible before the law. Three other Jews in the case were said to have been tried August 31 but the outcome of the trial was not known.

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