The Story of Yankel Khansis

Among the many tragic stories of Soviet Jewish prisoners, the case of Yankel Leibovich Khansis is one of the saddest. he was first sentenced in August 1970 to two and a half years imprisonment on a hooliganism charge. in March 1972 he was arrested again and at the trial held some nine months later, was given a further two years. Disturbing news coming out of his camp in Omutninsk in the Kirov district, now indicates that Yankel Khansis may face a third trial.

During his three years in prison, Khansis’s physical condition had deteriorated greatly, and now both his legs are paralysed. Indeed he had to be carried to his second trial in September 1972 on a stretcher. In addition he spent some time in Moscow’s notorious Serbsky Institute for Psychiatric Diseases where many Soviet dissidents are confined for their political views.

Khansis had been looking forward to his release on March 7. But in mid-January, the situation changed. The officer in charge began to treat him unfairly. For example, Khansis has to use crutches and cannot stand in queues. the officer used insulting language at Khansis for not being able to keep his place in the dinner line and finally barred him from the dining room. Now despite his obvious disabilities, Yankel Khansis has been put in a solitary confinement cell and the camp commandant has threatened to press criminal charges and indict him on a charge of hooliganism.

Even more ominously, Khansis’s wife, daughter and grandchild were refused permission to postpone their departure from the USSR so that they could all emigrate together after his release from prison. they left Kishinev towards the end of January.

Another strange twist to this story is the manner in which Galina, Khansis’s daughter, was allowed to take her child with her to Israel. the Kishinev emigration authorities had at first refused to consider Galina’s application to leave with the child without the consent of its father, her former husband After many weeks of argument and protest, the word suddenly came from Moscow that they could leave, and the Kishinev emigration authorities then granted Galina and her child a permit to go to Israel.

Meanwhile the authorities are still doing their best to provoke Khansis and stage a third trial before his date of release. the latest provocation was to delete from his wife’s last letter to him before departure the names and addresses of friends and relatives with whom he could stay after release from prison.

Jerusalem Post 10 February 1974

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