Manifestations of anti-Semitism in Russia from January to June 2018

We're publishing half-year report on anti-Semitism commissioned by the Russian jewish congress and made by "SOVA" analytic centre.

THE MOST RADICAL MANIFESTATIONS OF ANTI-SEMITISM

Within the period of January to June 2018, no attacks or acts of vandalism are known to have been evidently committed on the grounds of anti-Semitism. However, in several incidents that occurred during this time the anti-Semitic motives were highly likely present.

In January, the unknown set fire to the car of the Chair of the Jewish community in Murmansk twice. The first act of arson occurred on the night of January 7, when the Orthodox celebrated Christmas. This could be the grounds to consider this as an act of religious extremists aimed at intimidating the Jews. However, the Chair himself stated that neither himself not the community have faced any threats so far.

Also in January, in St. Petersburg, the inscription “Jewess is not the president" appeared on the building of the headquarters of Ksenia Sobchak running for presidency. On the same day, a man who said he was the author of the graffiti brought a package to the headquarters with books by Pelevin and Castaneda and a note saying: "Kill. Eat. Repeat".

In June, several gravestones were burnt at the Jewish cemetery in Voronezh. The Jewish community, along with the Ministry of Emergency Situations, did not rule out an arson attack.

Furthermore, in February some hand-written anti-Semitic leaflets were found in a train of the Moscow Underground with accusations of the "Jewish-Kremlin" power.

Also noteworthy is the anti-Semitic act of vandalism which happened in Novokuznetsk. A Jewish object did not in fact suffer: aiming to offend the Jews, the perpetrators damaged the monument of Russian-Armenian friendship, apparently misinterpreting the Armenian alphabet for Hebrew. They drew a swastika on the monument and wrote “To the Jews”.

The World Cup kicked off on June 14 and was accompanied by several xenophobic incidents, including those with anti-Semitic grounds. The known cases, however, were associated with foreign fans only. In Volgograd three fans from England sang Nazi songs with a mention of Auschwitz, and raised their hands in a Nazi salute. An investigation of the incident was later initiated by the law enforcement agencies of the United Kingdom. At the time of writing, one of the fans Michael Herbert was prohibited by the court to attend football matches for five years. In Moscow, close to the Red Square a group of Tunisian fans chased a fan holding the Israeli flag, insulting him and shouting "Long live Palestine"! However, they abstained from physical violence.

Occasionally, some federal and regional media continued to produce anti-Semitic statements. Thus,  in January the participants of a "Sunday Evening with Vladimir Soloviev" talk show on Russia-1 TV channel discussed the ethnic origin of the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko. The presenter, parodying the Ukrainian accent, asked: "So he is Russian, or not? Petro, it time you finally decided yourself”. The deputy Konstantin Zatulin then replied: "Waltzman, he is Russian, of course”.

 In January, the Novgorod newspaper “Vashy nobosti” ("Your news") also went on ‘disclosing the pseudonyms’. To illustrate the "Bolotny revolt" (the title of the article) at local television, the author of the article Oleg Kuznetsov recalled the Novgorod visit of the "fervent anti-Putin" poet Dmitry Bykov and its coverage by the regional television: "The voyage of the Moscow oppositionist Bykov (real surname - Zilberdrud) is being arranged by the Novgorod impresario Pevzner. If this phenomenon is covered by the Novgorod journalist Brutman, the circle will be fully closed”, - wrote O. Kuznetsov.

Thanks to journalist Maxim Shevchenko, radio "Echo of Moscow" remained one of the main suppliers of anti-Semitic statements. For example, in January, in “Grani nedeli” ("Edges of the Week"), the issue dedicated to the 65th anniversary of the “Doctors' plot”, Shevchenko called this anti-Semitic campaign in the late Stalinist USSR “fudge”: "It's a fudge. There was no anti-Semitic campaign. At the very least, it was not more high-profile than the anti-Bandera campaign, or campaigns against the Baltic nationalists or the bourgeois nationalists in the Volga region. I would not highlight it that much against the whole number of all campaigns of that time. In general, by all means, that is not the main theme of the Stalin era. There was no particular anti-Semitism there. I don’t think it was a question of anti-Semitism. It was a purely political matter”.

In a couple of “Osoboye mneniye” (“Special Opinion”) programs in May he accused Israel of the genocide of the Palestinians and later, in a week’s time, compared the country with Nazi Germany.

In January, Russia Insider (online edition) released the editorial entitled "It's Time to Drop the Jew Taboo", abundant with anti-Semitic clichés, and thus announced the launch of a series of articles that "honestly and truly cover the influence of the Jewish elites". The editor of the publication Charles Bausman thus intends to resist the "biased and distorted picture" created by major foreign media in their publications about Russia.

Some of the publications have evoked response by the authorities. For example, following the above-mentioned article in “Vashi novosti” (“Your News”) in Novgorod, the governor Andrei Nikitin stated his disapproval of anti-Semitism and expressed hope that the editorial office would apologize for the published material.

After the governor's appeal, the newspaper published an apology however the chosen wording indicates that the editorial board does not consider it outrageous that an anti-Semitic statement appeared in the newspaper.

Did not stay unnoticed the anti-Semitic statement by the first secretary of the Khanty-Mansiysk District Committee of the Communist Party of Russia Vadim Abdurakhmanov made during the pre-election debates at local television and radio company Yugra. He suggested to vote for the Communist candidate Maxim Suraikin and noted that not only was he the only Communist candidate, but also "Russian by nationality, without Jewish roots”. In March, the Investigation Committee of the Russian Federation in Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous District initiated investigation of the incident.

Furthermore, the fire in "Zimnyaya Vishnya” (Winter Cherry") shopping center on March 25 in Kemerovo evoked a surge of anti-Semitic publications in social networks. The incident led to numerous victims, and just the next day after the tragedy some videos appeared claiming that it was a ritual murder timed to Pesach. These videos were posted primarily on nationalistic and marginal Orthodox resources, however many of them went viral.

The media was not unique in manifestations of anti-Semitism. In January, Head of the Department of Economic and Social Geography of Russia at Faculty of Geography of Moscow State University, Professor Vyacheslav Baburin, with a reference to internal rules, refused to admit to examination student Lev Boroda who was wearing a yamaka. The student then had to apply to the dean's office and eventually sit for examination with another teacher.

We shall also list below some acts by law enforcement authorities that can be regarded as manifestations of anti-Semitism. In January, by resolution of court Chief Rabbi of Ulyanovsk region Josef Marozof was expelled from Russia – in 2017, the annulation of his residence permit was initiated by the FSB. In March, Osher Krichevsky’s (Chief Rabbi of Sochi) residence permit was also annulled. The Rabbi tried to litigate this resolution, however in May the Omsk regional court dismissed his appeal and found the resolution  to revoke the residence permit legal. In both cases, the reasons for the cancellation of the residence permit were not even announced in court.

In March, the Meshchansky District Court of Moscow fined six Israeli citizens under Part 5 of Art. 5.26 of the Code of Administrative Violations (violation of legislation on freedom of conscience, freedom of religion and religious associations). The fact that staff of the Kabbalah Center staff lit candles in honor of Chanukah in their office was treated as illegal missionary activity.  

LAW ENFORCEMENT PRACTICE

It is known that within the indicated period several sentences were passed for the propaganda of anti-Semitism, all of them concerned online posts. Noteworthy, in half of the cases the offenders were sentenced to imprisonment. A resident of the Chernushinsky District of the Perm region was convicted for the publication of anti-Semitic materials and sentenced to a year of colony of the general regime under   Part 1. of Art. 282 of the Criminal Code (incitement to ethnic hatred). Under the same article, a RNU supporter from Novgorod was sentenced to 2.5 years of imprisonment with a probation period of 3 years. For a similar offense, a resident of Severodvinsk received a 1 year suspended sentence with probation under articles 280 and 282 of the Criminal Code (calls for extremism).

The rest of the condemned were punished for propaganda of anti-Semitism combined with some other forms of hatred. A native of Uzbekistan in Kazan and an Ufa student were both sentenced under art. 282 to two years of colony-settlement for posting xenophobic materials. A prisoner of an Ukhta colony conducted a similar crime and was found guilty under articles 282 and 280 of the Criminal Code. Given the unexpired term of the previous sentence, the court sentenced him to 3.5 years imprisonment in a special regime colony. Under the same articles, a resident of Petrozavodsk received a suspended  sentence with a one year probation period.

We will make a reservation that far not all the sentences are known to us and possibly there were more of them.

In April, in Syktyvkar, a criminal case was initiated against Viktor Vishnevetsky, a 34-year-old assistant to the State Councilor of Komi from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, head of the regional branch of the movement "Constantly acting meeting of the national-patriotic forces of Russia", under Art. 282 of the Criminal Code for the publication of anti-Semitic videos in "VKontakte” social network.

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We're publishing half-year report on anti-Semitism commissioned by the Russian jewish congress and made by "SOVA" analytic centre.

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