The Soviet dissidents released from prison in a secretly negotiated US-Soviet swap have been the guests of honour at tearful welcoming celebrations in the United States and Israel.
The Soviet dissidents released from prison in a secretly negotiated US-Soviet swap have been the guests of honour at tearful welcoming celebrations in the United States and Israel. The dramatic announcement on Friday (27 April) that five Russian political prisoners, including the well-known Alexander Ginsburg, had been exchanged for two Russian spies, made headlines around the world. New York Jews, gave a rousing welcome to two of the dissidents at the annual Jewish Solidarity Rally on Sunday (29 April).
SYNOPSIS: Thousands of Jews turned out for the Solidarity Day Rally which took on a special significance when the presence of two of the released dissidents - Mark Dymshits and Edward Kuznetsov. Mr. Kuznetsov's wife Sylva, flew in from Tel Aviv to join her husband. The rally was addressed by several notable politicians, and Mr. Dymshits spoke to the crowd through an interpreter.
In Tel Aviv, Ben Gurion airport was the scene of another celebration on Sunday (29 April) when five others Jews, released two weeks ago from Russian prisons arrived in Israel. The five men had spent nearly nine years in labour camps for trying to hijack a Soviet plane from Leningrad to Sweden in 1970, in an effort to get to Israel.
Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin was among the emotional welcoming crowd. He thanked United States President Jimmy Carter for his help.
Upon their arrival in Tel Aviv they were issued certificates of Israeli citizenship. Despite the high price they paid for the attempted hijacking, one of the dissidents said there was no other way they could have emigrated to Israel. All agreed they had no regrets about the plot.
The day after the first five dissidents arrived in Israel, Mark Dymshits and Edward Kuznetsov were greeted at Ben Gurion airport by Prime Minister Begin and Deputy Prime Minister Yigael Yadin. They too, were serving time in Soviet prisons for their involvement with the attempted hijacking.
Mr. Dymshits thanked Mr. Begin, the Israelis and friends throughout the world who had worked to secure their release. He called on people to continue the struggle, which he said was no there were still fifteen jewish prisoners of conscience in Soviet labour camps. Mr. Kuznetsov said "We did not fell lonely while in prison. For we knew that world Jewry and many other friends were supporting us".