Tyranny does not like publicity

A concerted KGB campaign to muzzle the voice of Soviet Jews is increasing in momentum. Over the past couple of weeks, dozens of telephone lines, belonging to Jewish activists, have been disconnected.

Last Friday, Moscow journalist, Yevgeny Baras, was warned by the KGB that if his telephone was used for international calls, measures would be taken against him. This campaign to stop information from getting out is an integral part of greater repressive measures to frighten and crush the movement.

In an open letter from 317 Jews from a dozen Soviet towns to the US National Conference on Soviet Jewry, the signatories states clearly that they will not be intimidated and that they would not revert to their pre-1967 status – that of being ‘the Jews of Silence’. They write:

Tyranny does not like publicity. No matter what the aims of the authorities are, the Jews of the USSR will go on struggling for their rights: for the right to lead an honourable existence, for the right of all those who want to do so to leave the country freely in order to become reunited with their people in Israel, for the right to maintain close ties with Jewish communities throughout the world. 

From the series of demonstrations organised last week outside Moscow’s Inturist Hotel on Gorky Street, it is clear that the Jewish response is becoming more militant. Natan Tolchinsky, 45, took part in one protest, carrying a banner, proclaiming ‘Let My People Go’.

For his courage, he received 15 days imprisonment with three other Moscow Jews.

It is not only Moscow Jews who are involved. the first demonstration included four Jews from Odessa who were deported back to the Black Sea town after their release from a police station.

Jewish scientists who wished to emigrate were warned, following an article in Pravda by Yuri Zhukov, entitled ‘Headhunters’. He accused industrialists in the West of trying artificially to create a brain drain from the USSR in order to increase their profits for their companies.

Simultaneously the Jewish cybernetics experts Dr Victor Brailovsky and Dr Grigory Rosenstein were requested to register at the military conscription office. Both are well past the usual service age. the same tactics has been applied to other Jewish activists who are scientists by profession, in particular, Mikhail Mikulinsky of Moscow and Valery Buyko of Riga.

All the scientists refused to register at military conscription offices. Rumours also began to circulate at the beginning of last week that the organisers of the projected international seminar of Jewish scientists (who have been refused permission to leave) on ‘collective phenomena and the applications of physics to other fields of sciences’, due to take place in Moscow between July 1 and 5, was designed to coincide with President Nixon’s visit.

This was quickly quashed by the Soviet programme Committee which includes eminent scientists such as Professors Levich, Azbel and Voronel. In a statement,the committee denied any connection with the visit and stated that it was purely coincidental that it would take place at the same time. They stressed that their seminar had nothing to do with politics and was purely a scientific affair.

According to a UPI report late yesterday, police arrested physicist Voronel in a Moscow grocery store, held him several hours and warne dhim not to proceed with the proposed scientific seminar. Voronel’s wife told newsmen that , after police took her husband into custody yesterday, they warned he would face criminal action if he proceeds with the symposium.

She said they read him a section of the criminal code banning ‘propaganda or agitation for the purpose of arousing hostility or dissension of races or nationalities’. The they freed him, she said. Mrs Voronel said she was confident her husband would go ahead with plans for the seminar.

The word and honour of the KGB was exhibited in the case of Seminon Pevzner. he and his father-in-law, Victor Lapidus, had threatened to demonstrate in front of the building of the Central Committee of the Communist Party in Moscow on May 30.

two days before the protest was due to take place, the Lapidus family was promised permission to emigrate within 40 days if they did not go ahead with their demonstration. they agreed.

On May 31, the day after the planned protest, Pevzner was dragged away from his flat by army officials who wanted him to register for the army. Victor Lapidus has been labelled ‘a parasite’ and told that if he does not find a job quickly, he will be sent to Siberia for a year.

jerusalem Post 9 June 1974


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