Police in Moscow Again Bar Meeting
of Jewish Scientists
By ANTHONY AUSTIN
MOSCOW, Nov. 30 — For the second Sunday in a row, the police prevented the convening today of the Moscow Sunday Seminar, the private weekly meeting of Soviet Jewish scientists who lost their research positions when they applied to im¬migrate to Israel and were then denied.
The seminar, organized in 1972 to keep up the expertise and morale of the scientists, has been held ever since in the two-room apartment of Victor L. and Irina Brailovsky, both mathematicians and activists in the Jewish emigration movement.
But on Nov. 13, Mr. Brailovsky was arrested on a charge of "defamation of the Soviet state and public order," and last Sunday the 20 or so Jewish scientists who came for the usual meeting were turned away by security police.
The same thing happened today. Three American correspondents were also stopped at the entrance to the apartment house, which was guarded by uniformed police officers and plainclothesmen. They were told they could not go in because the building was being disinfected by sanitary workers. "Bedbugs," one of the officers explained.
Mrs. Brailovsky, who had come down to the lobby, denied that her apartment was being disinfected, and charged that the plainclothesmen were breaking the law by preventing a private gathering that she asserted was legal.
Police Decline to Answer
A spokesman for the security detail, asked by a correspondent if entrance was in fact being barred because of the seminar, and if holding such a gathering was against the law, replied that the answer would come from the Soviet Foreign Ministry.
He added that the ministry would also have something to say about the "bad behavior" of the correspondents in taking an interest in matters that he said were none of their concern. He told them to leave at once.
The journalists, while walking back to their car, met a group of seminar members who had been turned away. Among them were Yuri Golfand, who is known among Western scientists for his work on symmetry principles and the theory of gravitation, and Solomon Alber, an internationally known systems analyst.
Standing in a light snowfall, the group explained that they had decided for two reasons to keep trying to hold their seminars in the Brailovsky apartment. To give up, they said, would be to admit that they had been doing something wrong; and to move the seminar to another apartment would be to expose another member to arrest.
Mrs. Brailovsky has charged that her husband's arrest was intended primarily as a step toward breaking up the seminars, which over the years have been attacked in the Soviet press as “nonexistent” and a “fabrication” of Western propagandists.
She has also appealed for support from the 200 or so Western scientists who have attended the seminars in the last seven years, dropping in to present papers as a gesture of solidarity while on official or private visits to Moscow.
Dissolution of Conference Feared
She has said that the authorities' new move, if left unchallenged in the Western scientific community, will mean the end not only of the weekly seminars but of the International Conference on Collective Phenomena, which grew out of them. At the international conference, held on four occasions between 1974 and 1979, groups of Western scientists met with Soviet seminar members in the Brailovsky apartment to report on the latest scientific developments in the West.
Mr. Brailovsky, before being transferred to Butyrka prison for pretrial examination, told his wife he had been questioned about the underground journal called Jews in the U.S.S.R., of which he was co-editor. Mrs. Brailovsky contends that her husband's role in the journal was only an excuse for arresting him, since it ceased publication 18 months ago.
Published in The New York Times, Dec. 1, 1980.