Antisemitism in Russia
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Part of Jewish history
Antisemitism in Russia is expressed in acts of hostility against Jews in Russia and the promotion of antisemitic views in Russian Federation. This article covers the events since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Previous time periods are covered in the articles Antisemitism in the Russian Empire and Antisemitism in the Soviet Union.
Since the early 2000s, levels of antisemitism in Russia have been low, and steadily decreasing. President of the Russian Jewish Congress attributes this in part to the vanished state sponsorship of antisemitism. At the same time experts warn that worsening economic conditions may lead to the surge of xenophobia and antisemitism in particular.
During the 1990s anti-Semitism was an enduring undercurrent and source of anxiety, its presence affirmed by easily accessible anti-Semitic newspapers and other publications, street or popular anti-Semitism. The number of anti-Semitic incidents rose sharply after the 1998 Russian financial crisis, the devaluation of the ruble, and the ensuing economic hardships affecting a broad segment of the general population.
High-profile anti-Semitic voices include several Russian Communist public figures such as Nikolai Kondratenko, the governor of Krasnodar Krai. He has blamed the Kremlin, which he claims is controlled by Jews and Zionists, for the demise of the Communist Party, the Chechen conflict and other problems. He had formed an alliance with local Cossacks and is said to believe that an international Jewish conspiracy rules the world. Other high-profile figures include deputies of the State Duma from the CPRF, Albert Makashov and Viktor Ilyukhin. On November 1998 the State Duma considered and rejected a measure to denounce Makashov. In late December 1998 Gennady Zyuganov, leader of the Russian Communist Party, was under pressure to publicly censure the bigoted statements of his comrades and did indeed denounce anti-Semitism, but at the same time labeled Zionism "a blood relative of fascism".
Since the mid-2000s incorporation of antisemitic discourse into the platforms and speeches of nationalist political movements in Russia has been reported by human rights monitors in Russia as well as in the press. Antisemitic slogans and rhetoric in public demonstrations are frequently reported, most of them attributed to nationalist parties and political groups. For example, the February 23, 2006 rally celebrating “Defenders of the Fatherland Day”, a yearly tribute to war veterans, according to the newspaper Kommersant, marchers flourished signs with messages including "Zhids! Stop drinking Russian blood!", “White State!", and "Russian Government for Russia".
In 2001, 98 United States Senators penned a letter to President Putin, expressing concern about popular antisemitism, radical extremists (such as former Klansman and Grand Wizard David Duke) in the Russian Federation.
On June 9, 2005, Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexei II addressed the international conference of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe in Cordoba, Spain, to declare that the Russian Orthodox Church shares concerns over "incidents of antisemitism, xenophobia and other forms of racism". He described antisemitism, as "one of the more radical expression of misanthropy and racism", and said its perpetrators included “public figures, publicists, and the leaders of radical organizations".
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- Georgy Lesskis, "A chauvinist at the Helm in Krasnodar", Diagnosis, December 1997 p.2
- Washington Post, November 8, 1998
- “Antisemites Rally in Moscow; Police Stand By,” UCSJ, Bigotry Monitor, Volume 6, Number 9, March 3, 2006, citing Kommersant, February 26, 2006.
- "Jews in Former Soviet Union: Senate Letter Expresses Concern About Russian Anti-Semitism". Jewish Virtual Library. NCSJ. Retrieved September 5, 2015.
- Russia – Patriarch Alexei II Denounces Antisemitism", Coordinating Forum for Countering Antisemitism, June 9, 2005.