18.6 The Jewish Movement for Emigration to Israel

No 18 : 5 March 1971

On 5-6 January 1971 the Leningrad Military Tribunal heard the case of Vulf Zalmanson (b. 1939), a member of the armed forces, who was arrested together with the eleven persons already convicted in the “aeroplane” case [see CCE 17.6].

The trial was held in camera. The father and brother of the accused were not admitted to the court-room. The accused was defended by defence counsel Sharkov (Leningrad).

The sentence: ten years of strict-regime corrective-labour camps.

Extra-judicial persecution in connection with the “aeroplane case”

Moscow. On 5 January 1971 Natalya Vasilevna Buzyreva, wife of Yury Fyodorov [sentenced to 15 years], was dismissed “at her own request” from her job as senior economist at the USSR Central Export Bureau.

Riga. On 5 January Semyon Zalmanson, brother of Silva, Vulf and Izrail Zalmanson, was dismissed “at his own request” from his job as a technician at a Riga factory.

Daugavpils [SE Latvia]. On 5 January Dr. Pinkus Khnokh, brother of Leib Khnokh and a therapist at the local city hospital, was dismissed from his job under Article 47-e of the Code of Labour Legislation (absenteeism). His absence was due to his attending the trial in Leningrad.

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In Odessa the investigation into the case of Reiza Palatnik (see Chronicle 17.8) has been concluded. The investigation under Article 187-1 of the Ukrainian Criminal Code (equivalent to Article 190-1 of the Russian Code) was led by Lavrentev, senior investigator of the Odessa Region KGB.

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The investigations into the cases of Ruta Alexandrovich (see Chronicle 16.10 (12)), Boris Maftser (Chronicle 15.6), Mikhail Shepshelovich (Chronicle 17.15, No 52) and Aron Shpilberg (15.6), all of Riga, have been concluded, the materials being signed in accordance with Article 203 of the Latvian Code of Criminal Procedure (equivalent to Article 201 of the Russian Code).

R. Alexandrovich and M. Shepshelovich face charges under Article 65 of the Latvian Criminal Code (equivalent to Article 70 of the Russian Code), B. Maftser and A. Shpilberg – under Articles 65 and 67 (equivalent to 70 and 72). Bravadsky was in charge of the investigations.

All except Maftser contest the charges brought against them.

Investigations into cases in Kishinyov and Leningrad (see Chronicle 14.11 (3) , 15, 17.14 and 17.15) have also been concluded and the materials signed.

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In September 1970 Arkady Lvovich Raikhman, a bio-physicist and head of a laboratory at the city hospital in Berezovka in the Odessa Region, applied to emigrate with his family to Israel. When this was refused he submitted to various authorities a demand for the decision of the commission of OVIR [department of visas and registrations] to be reconsidered. He also signed an appeal to the Brussels congress.

On 21 February 1971 the police detained and thoroughly searched Raikhman at Odessa airport, under the pretext of looking for a stolen briefcase. After the search he was subjected to a long interrogation by several men in plain clothes, one of whom said he was an official of the KGB. During the interrogation, as Raikhman’s complaint makes clear, they threatened him with being called up for army service and “jeered at his religious and national feelings”.

At present Raikhman is working in Odessa as a loader.

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433 Georgian Jews from Tbilisi, Kutaisi, Poti and Kulashi sent an appeal to the Organising Committee of the 24th Party Congress to be allowed to emigrate to Israel. “Several years ago,” the appeal says, “we submitted applications to emigrate from the USSR. In expectation of our departure many of us have sold our belongings and homes and given up our jobs, and now we live in corners of other people’s homes . . . For two fruitless years we have haunted government organisations. Nothing makes any difference.”

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On 11 December 1970 the film director Mikhail Kalik (director of “A Man Follows the Sun”, “So Long, Boys” and other films) submitted an application to emigrate to Israel. On 17 February 1971 his flat was searched, an inventory made of some of his property and his savings-books confiscated. Criminal proceedings have been instituted against M. Kalik under Article 153-1 of the Russian Criminal Code (private enterprise using state property), which prescribes imprisonment for up to five years with confiscation of property.

The proceedings instituted against Kalik were based on personal appearances made by him at showings of his two latest films (“To Love” …. which has already been released, and “The Price”, based on the play by Arthur Miller) at the invitation of various bodies and organisations (including the city Party committee at Khimki [near Moscow], the Novosti press agency and others). Kalik was paid for these appearances through the Znanie (Knowledge) association and the Soviet Cinema Publicity Bureau; he also appeared free of charge on a voluntary basis. Despite this the KGB and the DSTSP [Department for the Struggle against Theft of Socialist Property] have recently been subjecting the organisers of a number of meetings, at which Kalik discussed his work with cinema-goers, to detailed questioning about what he says at these meetings and how he is paid for them.

On the morning of 17 February Kalik himself was summoned to the DSTSP. After a number of minor points had been cleared up the DSTSP department head Koptelov informed Kalik that they had no claims against him and wished him success in his work.

At nine o’clock on the evening of the same day Kalik’s flat was searched, the warrant being signed by Procurator Dyakov. After this Kalik was informed that criminal proceedings would be taken against him.

On 26 February [1971], in connection with this case, seven citizens (among them V. Bukovsky, Z. Grigorenko, Yu. Shtein, A. Yakobson and P. Yakir) sent a protest to Rudenko, Procurator-General of the USSR, pointing out the blamelessness and absurdity of the grounds for the criminal prosecution of Mikhail Kalik, “who has already been subjected once, in the years of the [Stalin] cult, to unwarranted repressive measures”.

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In March 1971 Semyon Dmitriyevich Mak, a former reporter of the Central Television, sent N. V. Podgorny an Open Letter requesting permission to emigrate to Israel. It is clear from the letter that S. D. Mak, who has twice been awarded prizes for his documentary films, of which he has made almost a thousand, was during 1970 the object of crude and unwarranted persecution of a flagrantly anti-Semitic nature by the management of Central Television, where he had been employed since 1963. Even his resignation from Central Television did not put an end to the persecution, and none of his appeals had any effect; as a result Mak was left without work.

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Alexander Arkadevich Gittelson, born 1931 in Leningrad, the holder of both a first and a higher degree from the Languages Faculty of Leningrad University, is married and has a daughter. In 1970 he submitted an application to emigrate to Israel. The following reference, signed by the local ‘triumvirate’ [employer and secretaries of Party and trade-union organisations], was issued to him at his place of work for submission to OVIR [Visa and Registration department:

“… He has worked at Vocational Technical College No. 51 since 23 February 1967 as a lecturer in aesthetics, conducting classes with students in accordance with the programme of theoretical instruction. He does not engage in extra-curricular educative work with the students. He works constantly to increase his specialist knowledge. During a discussion of this reference at a meeting of the local trade-union committee it became clear that his wife and daughter support his request to go to Israel. The members of the local committee expressed their indignation and anger at Gittelson’s act, branding him as a two-faced careerist who has betrayed the trust of Soviet people and deserted to the camp of the Israeli despoilers of the freedom and independence of the Arab peoples. The speakers expressed the inadvisability of his continued employment as a lecturer in aesthetics at Vocational Technical College No. 51.”

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On 24 February 1971 24 Jewish citizens appeared at the Reception Room of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet. At 11 o’clock they handed in a “Statement of the 32” on the subject of emigration to Israel, and also a request for all the signatories who were present to be received personally. The content of the Statement was as follows:

  1. Will the lawful right of Jews to emigrate to their historical motherland be implemented?
  2. A demand for an end to the persecution of Jews wishing to emigrate to their motherland.
  3. A demand to regularise the question of references and the question of non-interference in [the making of arrangements for] the departure of relatives remaining in the USSR.
  4. Facts on violations of the Decree of 12 April 1968 on the time-limits for considering applications and for giving reasoned replies.

Throughout the following six hours the group reminded the officials of the Reception Room of their presence each hour, always receiving the same answer: they could not be received personally since no members of the Presidium were available. By 5 pm, i.e. the end of working hours, no callers remained in the Reception Room except the group. Cleaners appeared and asked them to leave the premises. The Jews refused. A. S. Dumin, deputy head of the Room, put the same request to them, but they continued to stand their ground. Dumin asked them to nominate three or four (later five or six) representatives to conduct negotiations, but this was refused. While arguing with the group Dumin, among other things, said:

“The Declaration of Human Rights has not been ratified, to speak from a strictly legal point of view.”

Finally, at 7.30 pm, Dumin announced that in four days’ time, by March 1, the Presidium would consider the question of the emigration of each member of the group and give reasoned answers.

On March 1 the original group of signatories, the number of whom had increased by eight persons, were received by General Shutov of OVIR; five more were received in the Presidium Reception Room by Dumin and Sklyarov, the head of the Room.

The substance of the reply to the “Statement of the 32” was embodied in the following four clauses:

  1. The question of emigration will be considered for each person individually.
  2. There are no known cases of persecution of Jews. The criminal cases of 1970-1971 contain nothing on this subject.
  3. OVIR will help in obtaining references from places of work. Applications may be submitted without references. As for communication with close relatives remaining in the USSR, the attitude of the authorities is one of non-interference.
  4. On the subject of the delay in considering applications, instructions have been given to the post office to look into these irritating episodes.

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Leonid (Jonah) Naumovich Kolchinsky, born 1952 (see Chronicle 17.8), was expelled from the ninth class [of secondary school] for speaking in defence of Sinyavsky and Daniel and against the invasion of Czechoslovakia.

On 14 October 1970 he was arrested at the flat of his friend A. I. Volkov, and on 15 October sentenced to fifteen days “for rowdy behaviour”, which he had committed on 6 October in a Notary Office, where he had been drawing up his application to emigrate to Israel.

On 30 December 1970 he was called up into the army and is serving in a unit of the Kiev Military District.

On 29 December Kolchinsky sent a declaration to the President of Israel, Dr. Zalman Shazar (and a copy to the USSR Minister of Defence), in which he stated that he regards it as impossible to take part in actions directed against his motherland—Israel.

On 25 February 1971 Kolchinsky submitted a report to the commander of his military unit, in which, proceeding from the belief that “at present one of Israel’s implacable enemies is continental China”, he asks to be sent “to the only place where I can be entrusted with arms while wearing this uniform—the area of the Chinese border”.

Fifty Moscow and Kharkov Jews have sent a petition to the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet and the USSR Foreign Ministry, asking for Kolchinsky to be allowed to emigrate to Israel. They point out the unlawfulness and absurdity of applying the law on military service to him.

On 5 March 1971 23 Kharkov Jews sent an appeal to the Ukrainian Party congress (and a copy to the forthcoming CPSU congress) earnestly requesting to be allowed to emigrate to Israel.

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At the end of February Burokevicius, senior lecturer at VEC1 (the Vilnius Engineering-Construction Institute) and deputy secretary of its Party organisation, criticised the state of ideological work at the Institute while speaking at an open Party meeting. As an example he gave the following case: Levinas, a student at VECI, had sent a letter to Copenhagen supporting the Jewish conference in Brussels.

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In February 1971 an order was issued to remove from public libraries all publications which could be used as aids to the study of Ivrit [Modern Hebrew].

In January and February of this year the following left for Israel:

The well-known public figure B.I. Tsukerman, Vitaly Svechinsky, Grigory Feigin (see Chronicle 17.12 (17)).

L. Rigerman (see Chronicle 17.9) left for the USA.