Activists in Moscow believe that a mass show trial of Helsinki watchdog committee activists might soon take place if the hard-line policy of the Kremlin against its critics continues. Such a trial could follow the pattern of the notorious Moscow show trials of the 1930s.
The news that Professors Benjamin Fain and Mark Azbel have been given permission to leave are the only crumbs of comfort in an otherwise unrelenting campaign unleashed against all Kremlin critics.
So far, not one of the arrested Helsinki watchdog committee activists has been tried. Nine days ago, however, the trial of two Ukrainian committee members opened with the prosecution demanding sentences of seven and ten years. Moreover, Yuri Orlov, chairman of the Moscow Helsinki watchdog committee, could receive three years in a labour camp.
Both Fain and Azbel were leaders of the scientific and cultural renaissance within the Jewish movement. Their emigration removes two extremely strong pillars from the movement. The exiling of Iosif Begun for two years to Central Siberia, the crackdown on the educational magazine, Jews in the USSR and recurrent threats of charges of parasitism are indicative of this new wave of repression.
Jewish Observer 7 July 1977