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In 1952, Stalin ordered a new persecution and purge of Russian Jews, and on June 6, 1953 Shifrin was arrested, falsely charged with spying for America, and forced to undergo six months of interrogation in Lubyanka, the central Moscow prison for political prisoners. The original death sentence was later reduced to 25 years in prison (a favorite Soviet penalty for virtually any non-capital offense), and eventually to ten years followed by five years of exile and deprivation of rights.
After his release on June 6, 1963, Shifrin spent his years of exile organizing and educating young Soviet Jews about their heritage and encouraging emigration to Israel. In 1970 he was himself allowed to emigrate to Israel, where he expected to find organized efforts already underway to gain the release of Soviet prisoners. He was dismayed to learn that such was not the case. During a visit to the U.S. he met with politicians, labor leaders, and anti-communists, futilely urging them to help form a special center to expose the Soviet concentration camp system. Determined that something must be done, he returned to Israel and established the Research Center for Prisons, Psychprisons, and Forced Labor Concentration Camps of the USSR, which he served as executive director until his death.
In February 1973, Shifrin testified before the U.S. Senate Internal Security Subcommittee about Soviet suppression of religious freedom and official persecution of Jews. A subcommittee staff summary of his testimony noted that "Shifrin feels it to be his moral duty to tell about the new waves of arrests in the Soviet Union, about starvation in concentration camps and prisons, about the mortal danger to which sick prisoners ? are exposed there."