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April 27, 1973 - Image 37

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1973-04-27

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Bill of Indictment on Accusation of Yankel Liebovich Khantsis

Editor's Note: The author of
this article, a Simmons College
student who is specializing in
studies of Russian-Jewish condi-
tions, is the daughter of Mr.
and Mrs. Nathan Feldman of
Birmingham, Mich., . and the
granddaughter of Ira Kaufman.
In her prefatory note to this
article she explains: "Never be-
fore has the United States seen
a legal account of the indict-
ment of a Soviet Jewish worker.
Yankel Khantsis, a construction
worker with only a fourth-grade
education, must fend for himself
against the grave injustices of
the Soviet court. The Bill of In-
dictment gives an incredibly
vivid description of the imminent
truths concerning the Soviet gov-
ernmental and social systems —
this description is the charge
wih which Khantsis is sentenced.
Seldom do we see a Soviet docu-
ment give such a powerfully
clear picture of Russian thought
and structure. It is important,
too, because of the lead role an
ordinary worker plays in the
disparagement of the Soviet sys-
tem.

* C

*

by LINDA FELDMAN
The Soviet Jew has been
`le butt of the Soviet Will-
,;a1 system. Jews are now
coming to grips with the
situation, standing up for
their rights in defense of
their religious heritage and
identity. For this assertion
of their rights, supposedly
assured in the Soviet Consti-
tution in Article 123, Chapter
X, many are being convicted
on such charges as treason
and anti-Soviet propaganda.
Commenting on the Lenin-
grad trial of 1970 in which
he was a defendant, Eduard
Kuznetzov writes:
"It is a big political game,
in which our destinies are
not taken into the slightest
consideration. We are not
even • the game's- pawns.
Pawns are the judges and
the attorney generals. And
since I, as a Soviet slave,
have no access to any even
remotely objective political
information, I can only do
some guess work on the
factors determining our des-
tiny, and which make equal-
ly probable the execution of
the death sentence, or its
abrogation at the last mo-
ment."

Kuznetzov, a former stu-
dent of philosophy, is known
for the part he played in the
Leningrad trial. He is con-
sidered by many, including
the Soviets, as a leader in
the Russian Zionist move-
ment. (There is no real or-
ganized Zionist movement in
the Soviet Union, hence no
real leaders).
There are other Soviet
Jews whose plight is not
nearly so well known as that
of Kuznetzov. There is, for
example, Yankel Liebovich
Khantsis.
Arrested under Article
190.1 of the RSFSR (Rus-
sian Soviet Federalist So-
cialist 'Republic) Criminal
Code, he was sentenced to
solitary confinement, in the
city of Kirov. He has been
• prisoned since March 7,
-1972.
Khantsis is not of the in-
telligentsia. He is an un-
skilled laborer with only the
U.S. equivalent of a fourth-
grade education. Born in
Kishinev in the Moldavian
SSR in '1929, Khantsis had
been supporting his wife and
child by working at 'a con-
struction site. He had been
imprisoned in "Institution
K-231" on Aug. 17, 1970, on
a charge of "hooliganism"
or breach of peace under
Article 206 Section 2 of the
criminal code. This charge,
according to the translator of
the Bill of Indictment, a Bos-
ton University law student,
is "reputed td be selectively

enforced against 'undesirable
elements!" The fact that he
was paroled after eight
months of a 21/2-year sen-
tence shows that the charge
was either minor or non-
existant.

All we have received about
Khantsis is from a handful
of sources: from a telephone
call Jan. 29, 1973, between
a Jew in Toronto and a Jew
in Kizhinev, saying:

"The Khantsis family is
in a most difficult situation.
They want to visit their
father and husband, but they
were not allowed to see him.
Till this day he is in Omut-
ninsk in the Kirov Province.
He is in jail in punitive iso-
lation for the past four
months. He has been in jail
for two years. After one and
a half years he was sen-
tenced to two more years;"
from a brief note that he is
not receiving medical treat-
ment far a severe leg dis-
ease; from the Aug. 30, 1972,
Bill of Indictment on the ac-
cusation of Yankel Liebovich
Khantsis. It is from this last
document that serious ques-
tions about the legality of
his arrest and sentence have
arisen.

Khantsis was indicted un-
der Article 190.1 of the
RSFSR Criminal Code which
states the "Circulation of
Fabrications Known to Be
False which Defame Soviet
State and Social System.
The systematic circulation in
oral form of fabrications
known to be false which de-
fame the Soviet State and
social system, and, likewise,
the preparation or circula-
tion in written, printed, or
any other form of works of
such content shall be pun-
ished . . . "

The Bill of Indictment,
which enumerates Khantsis'
offenses under the article is
the end-product of his pro-
curatory, or preliminary in-
vestigation. According t o
Articles 113-117 of the USSR
Constitution, a preliminary
investigation of all crimes
against the state are carried
out by a single person,
known 'as the procurator.
The procurator acts as judge,
prosecutor, and "guardian of
the rights of the accused"
during the hearing. The pro-
curator, a law graduate and
party member, must act un-
der general party control and
is bound to carry out party
policy. It is from the results
of this hearing that the Bill
of Indictment is drawn up.
The document is then used
as the basis for which a de-
fendant can be convicted
and sentenced at his trial—
the trial being little more
than a formality.

"Khantsis," the Bill of In-
dictment reads, "is accused
as follows: that he, attempt-
ing to obtain a visa to emi-
grate to Israel from Decem-
ber, '1970, .to May, 1972,
(NB: earlier in the Bill of
Indictment it states that
only in the beginning of
March, '1972, was Khantsis
trying to -obtain a visa)
Systematically disseminating
among citizens in oral and
written form deliberately
false fabrications, defaming
the Soviet 'governmental and
social order, comparing it
with the governmental sys-
tem of Israel as an exem-
plary country and a leading
world power . . . he called
the Soviet system of manage-

ment two-faced and fascistic
the Soviet governmental sys-
tem unjust, obscene, pro-
fiteering, exploitive a n d
fascistic; he said that in re-
lation to the Jewish nation-
ality there exist oppression,
racism, and discrimination
. . . He said ... that alleged-
ly in the Soviet Union there
is a total lack of humane-
ness and that innocent people
are often put into places of
deprivation of freedom, and
that he himself allegedly
was convicted not for any
crime, but for belonging to
the Jewish nationality . . ."

,

One is led to wonder how
Khantsis, with only a fourth-
grade education as stated in
the Bill of Indictment came
to think such lofty, "defama-
tory" thoughts. The question
is thus raised of how many
other working-class Jews in
the Soviet Union have kept,
or found, their Jewish identi-
ties; and how many are being
persecuted for such thoughts
and words, if in fact these
words are Khantsis' own.
Evident in t h e above
charge is the sort of flowery
language used throughout
the document. It consists
mainly of testimony of wit-
nesses w h o spoke with
Khantsis between Deecmber
of 1970 and May, 1972.
(Charges were brought
against Khantsis March 9,
1972.)
Khantsis spoke to P. B.
Talalian, a fellow convict,
on the premseis of the bath-
house of "K-231" in Decem-
ber, 1970. "Disseminating de-
liberately false fabrications
about our (Soviet) system of
government, he (Khantsis)
said that 'allegedly in the
USSR by comparison with
Israel all humaneness is ab-
sent, and innocent people are
put in places depriving them
of freedom," Talalian's testi-
mony reads.
In June, 1971, and again
in August, 1971, and Febru-
ary, 1972, at Omutninsk
where Khantsis had been
sent after his parole, he ex-
pressed to parolee G. N.
Afansiev "in conversation a
hatred of the communists,
calling them fascists; that by
comparison with Israel and
Argentina workers in the
USSR do not 'live' but al-
legedly 'exist.' "
According to the explana-
tion of the witness G. A.
Bonderenko, "Khantsis ex-
pressed similar opinions (as
he did to Afansiev) to him
(Bonderenko) on the prem-
ises of the shoemakers' shop
of Institution `K231' in Feb-
ruary and twice in March of
1971." Bonderenko's testi-
mony is explained earlier in
the document, as well as in
this later passage, but he is
referred to earlier as "con-
vict G. A. Bonderenko," not
as a "witness." Repetition
of material is made in sev-
eral instances, expressed in
similar styles in each case.
The difference lies in sub-
stituting the word "witness"
for "convict," "parolee," or
"civilian officer."
Khantsis also wrote, says
the Bill of Indictment, 21
letters and two telegrams
variously to the presidium of
the Supreme Soviet of the
USSR, to the president of
the Council of Ministers of
the USSR, and to the Com-
mittee of the People's Con-
trol of the Central Com-
mittee of the Communist
Party of the Soviet Union (a

grievance committee dealing
with citizens' complaints.)
It is not atypical for
Khantsis to write such
ltters. There are often re-
ports of letters written by
many individuals and groups
of Jews to not only heads of
the Soviet states, but to vari
ous members of the United
Nations, and leading figures
in the United States, Israel,
and England.

Nowhere in the Bill of In-
dictment is any defense at-
torney mentioned. One must
assume that Khantsis, with
his nominal education, was
left to defend himself against
the formalities of the hear-
ing, the vagueness of the
charges, the memories of 18
witnesses — of which t h e
names of three witnesses are
mentioned but no testimony
or source of identification is
presented—and the proceed-
ings of the procurator in the
name of the State and Party.
It seems strange that with
his vivid, eloquen t words
and phrases, showing a force-
ful will and determination of
goal, that Khantsis would
narrow his words and ideas
so much.

It seems odd, too, that
only one letter was written
after his arrest in March,
1972, and that this was the
only letter mentioning a re-
quest for permission to emi-
grate to Israel; although
many other letters were des-
cribed as "demand letters,"
(the demands were not
enumerated), and many re-
ferences to Israel were
made.

Yankel Khantsis is a
simple, working man. It is
not likely that he came in
contact with those of the
intelligentsia — Zionist lead-
ers such as Eduard Kuznet-
zov. Yet Khantsis' message,
to be found within the judi-
cial rhetoric of the Bill of
Indictment is similar to the
messages of the leaders of
the Soviet Zionist movement.
One can only suppose that
Khantsis' views on Russian
life are similar to the views
of others like himself—that
according to the Bill of In-
dictment, "in the Soviet
Union there allegedly exists
hypocrisy, lawlessness, ar-
bitrariness, exploitation, and
oppression of man."

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS Friday, April 27, 1973-37

Use of Hallot, Their Contents

By RABBI SAMUEL FOX

(Copyright 1973, JTA, Inc.)

Some people insist on
having long Hallot (breads)
for the Sabbath meal.
The Sabbath requires two
Hallot. If the two Hallot are
long they resemble the letter
"Vav" twice. Since each
Hebrew letter has a numeri-
cal equivalent and the letter
"Vav" has a numerical
equivalent of six, two long
Hallot would represent the
number 12. The two long
Hallot are thus representa-
tive of the 12 loaves of
show bread that were put
on the holy table in the
Temple of old. This sym-
bolism is a way of making
the home a temple during
the hours of the Sabbath
meal. There are some people
who actually have 12 loaves
on the Sabbath in order to
accomplish this rqpresenta-
tion. For those to whom 12
loaves would be rather ex-
travagant, two long loaves,
having the equivalent of the
sum of 12, are a fitting sub-
stitute.
Sabbath Hallot are made
with white instead of color-
ed flour (e.g., dark or yel-
low).
In the olden days, it was
required that whatever was
eaten on the Sabbath be the
most luxurious of foods. As
white flour was more refined
and therefore more luxurious
than other types of flour, it
was thought fitting to use it
for the preparation of the
Sabbath Hallot.
Some scholars say that the
white of the Hallot repre-
sents forgiveness. Adam
sinned on Friday (the day
before the first Sabbath),

JOE MILLER

and

HIS ORCHESTRA

Music For All Occasions

LI 5-1244

and, in some ways, our Sab-
bath observance represents
an act of forgiveness for the
original sin of our ancestor.
This interpretation seems fo
be in accordance with one of
the opinions in the Talmud
which claims that the forbid-
den fruit Adam consumed in
Paradise was wheat. Thus,
whiteness of the wheat for
the Sabbath bread represents
the refinement of the or-
iginal character of man.

Pleading Guilty
to Imaginary Sins

Nothing is more dangerous
for a nation or for an indi-
vidual than to plead guilty to
imaginary sins. Where the
sin is real—by honest en-
deavor the sinner can purify
himself. But when a man has
been persuaded to suspect
himself unjustly — what can
he do? Our greatest need is
emancipation from self-con-
tempt, from this idea that we
are really worse than all the
world. Otherwise we may in
course of time become in
reality what we now imagine
ourselves to be. — Achad
Ha'am.

Academic training pro-
grams for translators have
been inaugurated by the He-
brew University and by Bar-
Ilan University, which also
will offer an MA degree in
translations.

—9r

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