- MOSCOW - A group of nationalist
Russian lawmakers called Monday for a sweeping investigation aimed at outlawing
all Jewish organizations and punishing officials who support them, accusing
Jews of fomenting ethnic hatred and saying they provoke anti-Semitism.
- In a letter dated Jan. 13, about 20 members of the lower
house of parliament, the State Duma, asked Prosecutor General Vladimir
Ustinov to investigate their claims and to launch proceedings "on
the prohibition in our country of all religious and ethnic Jewish organizations
- The letter, faxed in part to The Associated Press by
the office of lawmaker Alexander Krutov, said, "The negative assessments
by Russian patriots of the qualities and actions against non-Jews that
are typical of Jews correspond to the truth ... The statements and publications
against Jews that have incriminated patriots are self-defense, which is
not always stylistically correct but is justified in essence."
- The stunning call to ban all Jewish groups raised concerns
of persistent anti-Semitism in Russia.
- Jewish leaders have praised President Vladimir Putin's
government for encouraging religious tolerance, but rights groups accuse
the authorities of failing to prosecute the perpetrators of anti-Semitic
and racial violence.
- Russia's chief rabbi, Berel Lazar, said lawmakers were
looking for support "by playing the anti-Semitic card."
- The prosecutor general's office could not immediately
be reached for comment on the letter, which the Interfax news agency said
was signed by lawmakers from the nationalist Rodina and Liberal Democratic
parties as well as the Communist Party.
- Krutov, a Rodina member, is deputy chief of the Duma's
Committee on Information Policy.
- With Putin planning to join events this week commemorating
the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp by Soviet troops, Russia's
Holocaust Foundation head Alla Gerber said it was "horrible that as
we're marking the 60th anniversary of this tragic and great day ... we
can speak of the danger of fascism in the countries that defeated fascism."
- While the Russian state itself is no longer anti-Semitic,
there are "anti-Semitic campaigns that are led by all sorts of organizations,"
- "The economic situation is ripe for this. An enemy
is needed, and the enemy is well-known, traditional," Gerber said.
- Echoing anti-Semitic tracts of the Czarist era, the letter's
authors accuse Jews of working against the interests of the countries where
they live and of monopolizing power worldwide. They say the United States
"has become an instrument for achieving the global aims of Judaism."
- "It is possible to say that the entire democratic
world today is under the monetary and political control of international
Judaism, which high-profile bankers are openly proud of," the letter
- Along with outlawing Jewish organizations, the lawmakers
call for the prosecution of "individuals responsible for providing
these groups with state and municipal property, privileges and state financing."