Professor Benjamin Levich

Professor Benjamin Levich, the most senior Soviet Jew to have applied to go to Israel, has been told that the promise he was given that he would be allowed to leave at the end of this year was a mistake.

For the past. year, Levich, a corresponding member of the Soviet Academy of Science, has remained silent and has refrained from active protest as part of an unwritten understanding that he would be permitted to join his sons in Israel in 1976.

The KGB’s tactics have been to play a waiting game and pick off minor activists while the campaign in the west remained dormant on the Levich case.

Both on their arrival in Israel and on their recent Visit to Britain, Yevgeny and Sasha Levich refused to speak out openly against their treatment at the hands of the Soviet authorities. Their visit here was first and foremost in order to thank friends who had helped in their struggle.

Mother protests

Almost certainly, all this will now change. Many senior academics in this country, who had signed petitions for Levich and had interceded on his behalf have expressed dismay at the perfidious nature of the Soviet action.

Meanwhile, the authorities are continuing their harsh treatment of Jews already serving prison sentences because of their expressed desire to go to Israel.

On Sunday, Gessia Penson, the aged mother of Jewish prisoner Boris Penson, staged a demonstration outside a Moscow library, carrying placards she called on the Soviet Government to allow her and her son emigrate to Israel. She was arrested within minutes and taken away by militiamen and KGB agents.

Nearly eight months ago, two Moscow activists, Boris Tsitlionok and Mark Nashpits were sentenced to five years in exile for similar activities outside the Lenin library.

Penson, an artist, was sentenced to ten years in the first Leningrad trial in December 1970. He is at present in Potma. One of his co-defendants in that trial, Anatoly Altman, from Chernovits, has been given a stricter regime in his camp at Perm in the Urals.

At the end of August, Altman staged a two-day hunger strike to protest against the non-delivery of mail from relatives and friends. At the beginning of September Altman demanded that his status be changed to that of political prisoner instead of common criminal. To emphasise the point, Altman stopped working. Two days later, he was thrown in the punishment cell and his demand for change of status was refused. But he persisted in his request and was given another 15 days in the punishment cell.

Last week, two new prisoners of Zion were added to the list when the appeals of Anatoly Malkin and Lev Roitburd were lost.

In the case of Malkin, a judge in Moscow confirmed a three-year sentence for evasion of military duty.

A few days earlier, a 20-minute hearing in Odessa confirmed a two-year sentence on Lev Roitburd. The 34-year Old activist was arrested and beaten up in June at Odessa airport.

Jewish Observer 24 October 1975

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