Government Warns Publisher of Anti-Semitic Letter
- 2005.02.05 INN:
Arutz Sheva - IsraelNationalNews.com
23:23 Feb-05-05 / 26 Shevat 5765
Government Warns Publisher of Anti-Semitic Letter
Saturday, February 5, 2005 / 26 Shevat 5765
(IsraelNN.com) Russian government agency has sent an official warning to
the extremist Russian Orthodox newspaper "Rus Pravoslavnaya" that last
month published a stridently anti-Semitic letter signed by 19 Duma members
calling for a ban on Jewish organizations in Russia. The agency charges
incitement of ethnic hatred, according to a January 28 report by the daily
"Kommersant." Founded in 1993, "Rus Pravoslavnaya" is published in St.
Petersburg, and it generally reflects the views of extremist elements in
the Russian Orthodox Church whose hierarchy has denounced the anti-Semitic
The warning was issued by the Federal Service for Supervising the
Observance of Laws in the Media. It characterized the letter as containing
"multiple negative statements against Jews and Judaism which were aimed at
the incitement of ethnic and religious hatred and the humiliation of their
ethnic dignity, which is inadmissible under current legislation." If "Rus
Pravoslavnaya," whose past record of publishing anti-Semitic articles has
been ignored by the Federal Service until now, receives another warning,
the Federal Service will have the right to take the paper's editors to
court and ask to shut it down.
The Russian Jewish Congress has announced its intention to pursue legal
remedies against both "Rus Pravoslavnaya" and the authors of the letter,
according to a February 1 report by the Sova Information-Analytical Center.
The Congress plans to appeal to the Prosecutor's Office to bring charges of
incitement. However, members of the Duma enjoy immunity from prosecution.
Nevertheless, Andrey Savelev -- a signer of the letter, member of the
"Motherland" (Rodina) faction in the Duma, and an ardent anti-Semite -- was
quoted by "Kommersant" as saying that the letter that has been withdrawn by
its authors (though by no means renounced or apologized for), will be
revised and re-sent to the Prosecutor's Office within a month or two.
(Bigotry Monitor -- UCSJ's weekly newsletter)
2005.02.05 IHT/NYT: Anti-Semitic letter embroils Duma
Anti-Semitic letter embroils Duma
By Sophia Kishkovsky The New York Times
Saturday, February 5, 2005
MOSCOW The Russian Parliament voted Friday to condemn anti-Semitism after
an uproar over a letter signed by some nationalist and Communist
legislators demanding an investigation and even a ban on all Jewish
organizations for alleged crimes ranging from inciting ethnic hatred to
But the course of the State Duma's short debate Friday showed that the
question was far from settled. In the vote, nearly one in five of the
deputies who voted refused to endorse the statement of condemnation.
The 450-member State Duma voted 306 to 58 to condemn the letter, which
had headings such as "The Morality of Jewish Fascism" and "Like a Form of
Satanism," and accused Jews of causing the collapse of the Soviet Union and
controlling international capital.
"There should be no room for anti-Semitism or ethnic and religious
hatred," the Duma's statement said. "Any steps aimed at inciting national
or religious dissent and hatred must be stopped immediately."
Twenty legislators signed the original letter, which was made public on
the eve of President Vladimir Putin's visit to Auschwitz for the 60th
anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camp by Soviet troops.
The letter underscored a recent spike in anti-Semitism and xenophobia in
"Even in Russia, which did more than anybody else to crush fascism and
liberate the Jewish people, we often see symptoms of this disease today,"
Putin said during the anniversary visit to the Nazi death camp in Poland.
"And we feel ashamed about this."
The Communist Party called for the vote to be removed from the Duma's
agenda Friday, saying, "There is no anti-Semitism in Russia."
Some Communist legislators openly defended the letter; one said the views
"did not come out of nowhere."
Aleksandr Brod, the director of the Moscow Bureau for Human Rights, said
that Putin's comments at the Auschwitz commemoration had been disingenuous.
"They're meant for external consumption," he said. "Every day there are
attacks. Anti-Semitic attacks, anti-Caucasian attacks, anti-Chechen
attacks. Every day there are crimes."
"Against the growing background of socio-economic problems, I think it is
a crisis situation," Brod said.
Anti-Semitism, present throughout Russian history and Soviet rule, had
appeared to taper off in recent years, replaced by a loathing of
dark-skinned people from the Caucasus that would spike after each terrorist
attack. But anti-Semitic incidents last month included the brutal beatings
of two rabbis.
Fourteen of the original letter's signatories came from Rodina, or
Motherland, a nationalist faction that is thought to have been a Kremlin
creation whipped up for the last parliamentary elections to draw votes.
The letter was published in Rus Pravoslavnaya, or Orthodox Rus, which
began as a supplement to Sovetskaya Rossiya, an ultranationalist Communist
Aleksandr Krutov, a legislator who belongs to the Rodina faction, was the
letter's main promoter. Krutov, who used to be a sports commentator on
Soviet television, until recently was host of Russky Dom, a weekly
television program that reported on religious issues with a decidedly
nationalist slant and was full of reports and remarks condemning Jews,
Catholics and other non-Orthodox religions. The program's spirit lives on
in a magazine by the same name, which is sold across Russia at churches and
even at general interest newsstands.
In perhaps the most cynical swipe in the letter, Jews are accused of
murdering the Reverend Alexander Men, a Russian Orthodox priest of Jewish
heritage whose 1990 death remains unsolved and is thought by many to have
been plotted jointly by forces in the KGB and nationalists. Orthodox
nationalists routinely condemn Men's ecumenical writings and his followers
are often regarded as heretics.
"We underscore that many anti-Jewish actions around the world are
constantly organized by Jews themselves with the goal of provocation - so
as to take punitive measures against patriots," the letter stated.
At least one Russian newspaper speculated that television news paid much
attention to the letter to distract viewers from protests about the
government's social benefits reform, which had led to widespread
On Thursday, "To the Barrier," virtually the only remaining televised
political discussion show, paired a former Soviet cosmonaut now working for
the largest private retail bank in Russia with Albert Makashov, a former
military officer who is now in the Duma and had signed the letter.
Makashov railed against Jewish oligarchs, whom he accused of controlling
The program's celebrity judges voted that the cosmonaut, who condemned
anti-Semitism, had won the argument. But Makashov, who was one of the
leaders of an attempted coup in 1993, received thousands more call-in votes.
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