Harassment of Soviet Jews

It is clear that during the past few weeks there has been a definite tightening of the screw in repressions against the Jewish movement. Refusals of exit visas to would-be emigrants at the Moscow Emigration Office have multiplied. Specialists and professionals have been particularly prominent amongst the refusals.

Leonid Byelpolsky is a medical doctor specialising on cereberal comas; his application for an exit permit was turned down a couple of weeks ago. So was that of 36 year old Grigory Rosenshtein, a noted cyberneticist. No reasons were given for the refusals.

Mikhail Fridman was told last November that he, his wife and ten month old son could leave. Fridman arranged for the transfer of his flat and wound up his affairs in the USSR. However when he went to collect his permit he was told by officials that it was not ready. Last week he was told that “his refusal had been confirmed.” he is now literally sitting on his suitcases.

Benjamin Gorokhov, the well-known film producer, was promised a visa just before the much-publicised hunger strike of Professor David Azbel and his friends. receiving the exit permit was conditional on his non-participation in the protest. Gorokhov agreed and did not go on hunger strike. As soon as Rubin and Galatsky had terminated their fast, Gorokhov and his wife called at the emigration only to be told that they had been refused. Such arbitrary action was not just confined to Moscow.

In the small town of Mogilev-Podolsk in the Ukraine, Ilya and Fania Roizman were told by their local emigration official that they were ‘too young’. Which is not bad for an old married couple nearing forty.

Last Friday’s mass arrests signaled a tougher Soviet attitude. more than 60 Jews were imprisoned because they wanted to deliver a letter on soviet emigration policy to the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party.

All were kept in cold damp cells from early morning until late at night. One Jew who was a bystander, had been picked up with the rest merely because of his Jewish features despite the fact that he had nothing to do with the exodus movement. His own pleas and those of the Moscow activists did nothing to soften the harsh attitude of his captors.

Alexander Druk who has been waiting to emigrate for nine months, was picked up as he went down to the pharmacy to pick up some medicine for his ailing wife.

Yevgeny Barazh was not permitted to telephone home from the police station to inquire after his sick son.

Jews from Kiev and Vilnius were also arrested and imprisoned. Upon release they were sent back to their home towns. Some Jews were not even permitted to travel to Moscow. Three Jews at the main railway station in Vilnius and another one at the airport were stopped from boarding their transport. the two Jews from Kiev, Alexander Tsatskis and Saul Raslin, were beaten up outside the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, having been followed by plainclothes men. When bystanders attempted to help them, police held them back, saying they were thieves and they must be beaten.

Jerusalem Post 22 December 1973


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