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Demonstrators Greet Gorbachev At United Nations; 58 Arrested

December 7, 1988

NEW YORK (AP) _ About 1,000 demonstrators waved flags and chanted today as Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev arrived at the United Nations, and police arrested 58 people protesting the treatment of Jews in the Soviet Union.

The arrests, which came as Gorbachev addressed the U.N. General Assembly, were made after demonstrators crossed police lines outside the U.N. The demonstrators were charged with disorderly conduct, police said.

A group of several hundred chanting, singing students and teachers from Yeshiva University gathered across the street from the U.N. to demand freedom for Soviet Jews.

″There’s a changed atmosphere, but it’s far from being enough. We appreciate the initial steps ... but there’s much more to be done,″ said Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, chairman of the group.

Comptroller Harrison Goldin, one of New York City’s highest elected officials, was among those who addressed the crowd.

″We hope that as (Gorbachev) pursues glasnost he will be equally vigorous in implementing a fundamental human freedom: the right to emigrate and freely practice one’s religion. For Jews, that is fundamental ... to maintain Jewish identity.″

Frankin Smiles, a rabbinical student, was asked if he thought Gorbachev even heard the demonstrators’ message.

″It’s more important that it reaches Americans,″ he said, explaining that they can pressure U.S. officials to pressure their Soviet counterparts.

A like number of Eastern European emigres demonstrated nearby. A group of Ukrainian emigres, many of them elderly, waved Ukrainian flags. The Ukraine is part of the Soviet Union, but its independence is favored by many Ukrainian emigres in the United States.

Members of an Estonian group waved their national flag and chanted ″One two three four, open up the iron door.″

Estonia is part of the Soviet Union, but is in the midst of a nationalist revival.

Another group of demonstrators carried large banners calling for the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan.

More than 100 Armenian-Americans protested Gorbachev’s handling of ethnic unrest in Azerbaijan and Armenia. Dr. Ara Caprielian, an organizer, urged the Soviets to stop bloodshed in the region.

He applauded increased toleration of dissent in the Soviet Union, but added: ″The extent to which glasnost ... will truly offer democracy has yet to be seen. Talking about the past and getting something today are two different things.″

On Tuesday night two groups of protesters gathered outside the Soviet Mission, where Gorbachev spent the night. They chanted, sang and made speeches.

The larger group, of Armenian-Americans, protested Gorbachev’s handling of ethnic unrest in Azerbaijan and Armenia. A smaller group of Jews protested Soviet emigration policy.

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