20.3 The Kishinyov Trial of the Nine

No 20 : 2 July 1971

On 21 June 1971 the Moldavian Supreme Court, with D. D. Bordyuzha, member of the Supreme Court, presiding, began hearing the case [34] against:

A. S. Voloshin – under Articles 17-61, 67, 69 and 119 of the Moldavian Criminal Code (equivalent to HL Articles 64, 70, 72 and 89 of the Russian Code, the last Article being concerned with “The appropriation of state property”);

A. Z. Galperin [born 1946] – under the same Articles;

A. M. Goldfeld [born 1946] – under the same Articles;

Kh. Ya. Kizhner [also known as Kirschner] – under the same Articles;

S. A. Levit [born 1947] – under Articles 67 and 69;

D. [Ya.] Rabinovich [born 1946] – under Article 119;

L. A. Trakhtenberg – under Articles 67, 69, 119;

D. I. Chernoglaz (Leningrad) [born 1939] – under Articles 17-61, 67, 69 and 119;

G. Z. Shur (Leningrad) [born 1936] – under the same Articles.

The state prosecutor was A. P. Poluektov, Senior Assistant Procurator of the Moldavian Republic. Counsel for the defence were T. Ya. Barantseva, Yu. I. Luri [who defended Eduard Kuznetsov at the trial of the “hijackers” – CCE 17.6], Ya.S. Rozhansky, V. G. Stryapunin [who defended Lev Yagman – see this issue, CCE 20.1] and others.

Voloshin, Galperin, Goldfeld and Kizhner were charged “that in company with Dymshits, Butman and others, who have already been convicted by the Leningrad City Court, they took part in preparations to seize a civil aeroplane in order to cross the border in it” (Article 17-61 of the Moldavian Criminal Code, equivalent to Article 17-64 of the Russian Code), “Together with defendants D. I. Chernoglaz, G. Z. Shur, S. A. Levit and L. A. Trakhtenberg they involved other citizens in their criminal activity, preparing and circulating literature of anti-Soviet content” (Articles 67 and 69 of the Moldavian Code). The literature referred to was Exodus by Uris, The Six-Day War, Iton Nos. 1 and 2 and My Glorious Brothers by Howard Fast. “With the object of duplicating literature of this sort, defendants Rabinovich, Galperin and Voloshin stole an ‘Era’ electrographic duplicating machine from the Moldavian branch of the USSR Tsentrosoyuz Institute of Design” (Article 119 of the Moldavian Code). (The indictment is quoted here from the newspaper Soviet Moldavia of 22 June 1971.)

Voloshin, Galperin, Kizhner, Levit and Rabinovich pleaded guilty. (Voloshin’s evidence had assisted in the investigation.) Goldfeld pleaded guilty in part, Trakhtenberg not guilty under Articles 67 and 69. Chernoglaz pleaded not guilty under Articles 17-61 and 119, and stated that if there had been infringements of Articles 67 and 69, then he had acted without malice aforethought and without anti-Soviet objectives.

Shur pleaded not guilty. “The Kishinyov court”, he said, “is not competent to try me; I have never been to Kishinyov, not a single witness to the items in the indictment relating to me is a resident of Kishinyov. Not once”, continued Shur, “since the time I was transferred from Leningrad to the Kishinyov investigation prison (autumn 1970) have I been questioned on the case of the ‘Era’ theft. Investigator Kulikov, in the presence of the Procurator, proposed that I should plead guilty and be released from custody in the court-room; otherwise I would get five to seven years’ imprisonment. ”

Shur refused to co-operate in the trial and declared a hunger strike. His final address was postponed for a day because of a fainting fit.

Four of the witnesses summoned to the court (Makhotko, Freizer and two others) refused to testify. Witness Gruman (Kishinyov) told the court that he was prepared to testify in his native language. To applause from the public the Procurator demanded that proceedings should be taken against them for refusing to give witnesses’ testimony.

Witnesses M. Dymshits and M. Korenblit (convicted by the Leningrad City Court and brought to Kishinyov under guard) continued to maintain that their reasons for preparing to seize an aeroplane were the groundless refusals of permission to emigrate to Israel.

In his address the Procurator dwelt on the attempt to hi-jack an aeroplane (“the majority of the defendants took an active part in the organisation of the attack on the aeroplane with the object of betraying the Fatherland”). The defendants, said Poluektov, had created an anti-Soviet organisation under the guise of an ulpan (an association for the study of Writ and the history and culture of Israel). The “Era” had been used not to produce Writ text-books, as the defendants maintained, but to print anti-Soviet literature.

The sentences, pronounced on 30 June, were: Chernoglaz, five years of strict-regime corrective-labour camps; Goldfeld, four years; Voloshin, Kizhner, Levit, Trakhtenberg and Shur, two years; Galperin, two-and-a-half years; and Rabinovich, one year.

[Commentary No 20]