Any review of anti-Semitism in the post-Soviet states must focus on Russia and Ukraine, the only two former Soviet republics with substantial Jewish populations. Perhaps 350,000 to 450,000 Jews remain in Russia today, concentrated in Moscow (150,000 to 200,000) and St. Petersburg (80,000 to 100,000). It is unlikely that more than 10,000 Jews live in any other Russian city.
The Jewish population of Ukraine is smaller than that of Russia, probably between 200,000 and 300,000. Perhaps 70,000 to 80,000 Jews live in Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital. Significant Jewish populations also reside in Dnipropetrovsk (30,000 to 40,000 Jews), Kharkiv (30,000), and Odesa (25,000 to 30,000). Two other Ukrainian cities, Donetsk and Krivoi Rog may have 10,000 to 15,000 Jews each.1
In both Russia and Ukraine, the Jewish population is aging — average age is in the late 50s and increasing — and marked by a death to birth ratio believed to be between 8:1 and 13:1. The great majority of Jewish adults are Jewishly illiterate, intermarried, and indifferent to the Jewish religion. Significant Jewish populations will remain in Russia and Ukraine for the foreseeable future, but their numbers will continue to decline and their Jewish identity will be weak.2
In a 2002 article,3 Dr. Mikhail Chlenov, a Moscow-based anthropologist and longtime activist in Jewish affairs, observed that anti-Semitism is a “dangerous trend” in Russian social development. A study published by the Anti-Defamation League in 2002, noted a slight increase in the number of anti-Semitic “incidents” in Russia; these, the study concluded, are more violent than those in the past. The ADL study directed particular attention to signs with anti-Semitic slogans posted on highways and streets; the first, which read “Death to Yids” and appeared on the Kyiv highway southwest of Moscow (and about 100 meters from a police traffic post), was rigged to an explosive that discharged when a driver on the highway stopped and attempted to remove it. The driver, a woman of partial Jewish ancestry, but with no ties to the Jewish community, was seriously injured.4
This incident, which occurred on May 27, 2002, was followed by seven copycat episodes. One, in Tomsk (central Siberia), injured two individuals and was labeled an act of “hooliganism” by local police. In the other incidents — three in Voronezh (south of Moscow) and one each along the Dmitrov highway north of Moscow, in Gatchina (near St. Petersburg), in Kemerovo (central Siberia), and in Vladivostok (Far East) — the putative explosives turned out to be phony and no one was injured. As in Tomsk, local police failed to consider such acts seriously; in one city, police said that such signs are not anti-Semitic “because everyone is called a Jew these days.” In another city, police labeled the sign a “practical joke.”
“Billboard terrorism,” as some have termed such incidents, is among the most dramatic of Russian anti-Semitic acts (and it is an act that has been used only in expression of anti-Semitism); however, it is only one among many manifestations of anti-Jewish bigotry that is current in Russia and Ukraine. One American monitoring organization reported the following incidents in Russia in the last three months of 2002 alone: (1) eight adolescents broke a window in a Kostroma synagogue and anti-Semitic graffiti appeared on buildings near the synagogue; (2) Nikolai Kondratenko, a political leader in Krasnodar with a long record of anti-Semitic statements, alleged that an outbreak of dysentery related to milk products manufactured by a local dairy was tied to “dirty tricks by a Zionist gang” from Moscow, supposedly envious of the high quality of the Krasnodar products in comparison to those made in Moscow; (3) during a two-week period in Petrazavodsk, a swastika and the words “Hitler wasn’t wrong when he sent the Jews to hell” were written on the wall of a local Jewish center, and a Jewish cemetery wall was defaced with a similar statement; (4) vandals threw rocks through the windows of a Jewish community office in Taganrog and spray-painted the words “Kikes out of Russia!” on the building; (5) men armed with iron pipes attacked a Jewish day school in Volgograd, but were beaten back by private security guards hired by the school; and (6) a textbook entitled Fundamentals of Russian Orthodox Culture, which accuses Jews of crucifying Christ and is hostile toward non-Russian Orthodox religions, was published by the Russian Ministry of Education. In none of these incidents, noted the report, did local officials respond to complaints by Jewish residents.
In Ukraine during the same period, Yehven Chervonenko, a Jewish member of the Rada (Ukrainian parliament) asked the Ukrainian Prosecutor General Office to initiate criminal proceedings against individuals inundating his office with anti-Semitic leaflets harassing him as a Jew. In Ivano-Frankivsk, the local branch of the Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists demanded information on the ethnic background of members of the Rada; the information was needed, they said, to guard against “cosmopolitanism,” a Soviet-era codeword for Jewish influence.5
Several synagogues and Jewish schools have been firebombed or otherwise physically damaged,6 and Jewish cemeteries have been vandalized with tombstones defaced or toppled. Holocaust memorials have been defaced, including one at Babi Yar. An inscription stating “Babi Yar will be repeated” appeared on a concrete wall at a tramline in Kyiv. Chalk drawings depicting Stars of David hanging from gallows deface buildings in Ukraine and elsewhere.
Attacks against Individuals
Violence against individual Jews, particularly those who are easily identifiable as Jews, has also increased. Hasidic men, who constitute most of the rabbis in the post-Soviet states, report a growing number of physical and verbal assaults; these individuals dress in a distinctive manner and most are foreign-born. Several rabbis no longer walk alone in the cities that they serve; they always are accompanied by young men acting as bodyguards (even though some of these men have no training as such).
Although absent from the largest-circulation newspapers and magazines, anti-Semitic articles have appeared in at least two dozen Russian periodicals during the last year to eighteen months. The Russian newspapers Sovietskaya Rossiya and Zavtra (Tomorrow) are especially frequent carriers of harshly anti-Jewish bigotry.7 Until recently, anti-Jewish bigotry in Ukrainian media seemed to be confined to crude small-circulation periodicals, most published in nationalist western Ukraine, and in broadsheets. However, recent months have witnessed the emergence of anti-Semitism in mainstream publications and in a slick management monthly, Personnel.8
In few such instances have law enforcement agencies responded appropriately, notwithstanding laws against the incitement of ethnic hostility in both Russia and Ukraine. Critical in this failure to react against anti-Jewish bigotry is the persistence of the perception during the long Soviet period that acts of anti-Semitism can be perpetrated only by official government institutions; all other acts of anti-Jewish bigotry are described as “hooliganism” or dismissed because state agencies say the alleged perpetrators are juveniles or that the legal system lacks suitable definitions of anti-Semitism, xenophobia, hate crimes, etc. Thus, the Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs claimed that the assault on the Brodsky synagogue in downtown Kyiv in April 2002 by disappointed soccer fans shouting anti-Semitic slogans was not an anti-Semitic assault, although no other buildings in the area were similarly attacked. Presumably, the Ministry reasoned that such violence could not be an act of anti-Semitism because the Ukrainian government did not endorse it.9 Further, some state officials claim that anti-Jewish bigotry is not really a hate crime, but a legitimate protest against Zionism — which was viewed as an illegal political movement in the Soviet Union — or the State of Israel.
Incidents of ethnic bigotry directed at other groups, such as Chechens and others from the Caucasus Mountain region, are numerous and seldom generate a reaction consistent with protection of basic human rights. Many individuals from the Caucasus (who tend to be darker skinned than most Russians) have migrated to Moscow and other Russian cities in recent years, and work as traders in bazaars and street markets. A related issue in Russian bigotry against people from the Caucasus area is Islamophobia, reflecting the seemingly never-ending conflict in Chechnya and various terror incidents inside Russia that are attributed to Chechens, as well as terrorist attacks elsewhere in the world by Moslem extremists.
Blacks also report a growing number of attacks and incidents of harassment. Whether African students at Russian universities and institutes, refugees trying to enter Western Europe through Russia, foreign diplomats, Marine guards at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, or Africans married to Russians, racist aggression against people of color in Russia is increasing. The United States and other countries have protested to the Russian government about racist violence against their citizens.10
If the above are manifestations of contemporary racism and anti-Semitism in the post-Soviet states, the sources of post-Soviet racism and anti-Jewish bigotry require further consideration. Traditionally, Russia and Ukraine have had three sources of anti-Semitism: the state, the Orthodox church, and political extremism, both left and right. In addition, several other factors can be added to this mix.
Regarding the Russian and Ukrainian states, each government enjoys good relations with its respective Jewish populations. President Vladimir Putin of Russia is believed to be free of anti-Jewish bigotry and has condemned anti-Semitism in general terms. Failure to implement economic reform, widespread corruption, increasing press censorship, and sales of weapons to rogue states have led to a severe crisis of confidence between Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and Western governments; nonetheless, President Kuchma’s relationships with key rabbis and other important Jews in Ukraine are good.11
However, several politicians in the Russian Duma (Parliament) clearly are anti-Semitic, sometimes issuing anti-Semitic statements. The impact of these statements appears to be limited, as such individuals seem to lack significant influence, either in the Duma or in Russian life generally.
The situation on a regional level is more complex. Russia is divided into 89 regions called oblasts, which have powers somewhere between those of a county and a state in the United States. Their governance is complicated, with both a local infrastructure and a leader — called a gubernator — appointed by Moscow. Turf battles exist between these two entities, often joined by the mayors of one or more powerful cities in the region and sometimes by officials of important industrial complexes in the oblast.
The gubernator, local oblast infrastructure, municipalities, and industries, can operate independently from Russian national policies. In many oblasts, the gubernator holds power, as it is he who controls the flow of money from Moscow, i.e., federal subsidies; he thus wields great influence over the maintenance and growth of key industrial sectors, regional media, and law enforcement agencies. Some gubernators have created structures similar to medieval fiefdoms, almost impervious to democratizing influences.
Several gubernators have struck alliances with local extremist forces and even invite extremist militias to operate joint patrols with understaffed and underpaid local police forces. Given their underlying philosophies, it is hardly surprising that such groups target Jews, other minorities, and various human rights organizations. Several Russian oblasts — Voronezh, Kostroma, Ryazan, Petrazavodsk, Kaliningrad, Krasnoyarsk, and Yekaterinburg — are notorious for the anti-Semitism in their territories.
Political extremism has long found a home in Russia and continues to do so today.12 If fascism is defined as an authoritarian populist movement seeking to preserve and/or restore pre-modern patriarchal values with a new order or social contract based on nation, race, or faith,13 it can be found in both rightist and leftist political movements in Russia today.
The roots of this culture are in the rapid societal change experienced in Russia and the loss of Soviet identity with its superpower status. Russian nationalism offers a new identity based on a puritanical, i.e., an extremist creed. Even educated people may be alienated and lonely — and thus vulnerable to the appeal of mythic propaganda. Modern technology helps to spread ideology over long distances.
Today fascist tendencies can be seen in several groups: (1) the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, whose ideology includes great-power Russian nationalism; anti-Semitism is widespread within its ranks; (2) the Russian Orthodox Church; (3) Cossack revivalists, whose forces are strongest in southern Russia; (4) Nazi/fascist skinheads, of whom there are estimated to be between 15,000 and 20,000 in Russia,14 including both activists and those under their influence; (5) soccer hooligans; and (6) several new political parties, among them offshoots of the Russian National Union, the National Bolshevik Party, and the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia.
The leading Russian fascist political parties are (1) the Russian National Union and its offshoots, and (2) the National Bolshevik Party. The Russian National Union, known by its Russian initials as RNE, was established in 1990. It promoted the superiority of the Russian “race,” its philosophy drawn from the Black Hundreds of late pre-revolutionary Russia, German national socialism, as well as Italian and Romanian fascism. In 2000 RNE split into two factions; the more prominent one is known as Russian Rebirth. The total membership of the RNE offshoots is probably about 25,000; their base is in west central Russia (especially in Voronezh and Oryel oblasts) and southern Russia (Stavropol and Krasnodar oblasts). The party was banned in Moscow in 1999 and in several other areas.
The National Bolshevik Party, established in 1993 by writer and poet Eduard Limonov and mystical philosopher Alexander Dugin, combines Russian nationalism, national socialism, tsarist autocracy, Christianity, nihilism, and misogyny in its philosophy. Notwithstanding the influence of Nazi ideology in its approach, it often appears less anti-Semitic and less racist than the RNE offshoots.
The National Bolshevik Party probably has between 5,000 and 10,000 members, including many students and some well-educated younger professionals, particularly engineers. The contradictions inherent in the confused mix of ideological components in each of these groups has generated some incoherence in their respective platforms; doubtless, this has been a factor in the inability of these organizations to develop clear and positive programs that would lead to the formation of truly national mass movements.
The Liberal Democratic Party is associated with Vladimir Zhirinovsky, whose father, Wolf Edelshtein, was Jewish. The philosophy of the Liberal Democratic Party, which is neither liberal nor democratic, improbably combines liberalism, fascism, and opportunism. Among Zhirinovsky’s statements is a declaration that 90 percent of all lawyers, doctors, and businessmen in Russia are Jewish; thus, he continues, Russians have ample reason to hate Jews.
On September 16, 2002, the Russian Ministry of Justice registered the National Sovereign Party of Russia (NDPR), another group with a fascist ideology. At least two of its leaders have long histories of anti-Semitic statements.15 This group claims about 11,000 members, a number that is probably exaggerated.
Church and Other Types of Anti-Semitism
The hierarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church appears to exercise caution on a national level, issuing few pronouncements that could be considered anti-Semitic. However, on a regional level, dioceses in the Volga and Urals region have published anti-Semitic materials. Among the publications is the forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, sold openly in church bookstalls.
Russian Orthodox priests generally are poorly educated. Their ranks are weak, reflecting the policies of the Soviet period when the KGB ensured that only vulnerable individuals entered the clergy. These individuals still occupy almost all positions of influence in church administration and management. Elements in the Russian Orthodox Church often appear to be fundamentalist, reactionary and susceptible to anti-Semitism; however, fascist tendencies are less apparent.
Skinheads and soccer hooligans in Russia and Ukraine are similar to their counterparts in Western Europe. Skinheads in Russia launched over 100 attacks in the Moscow area in 2002; their primary targets were blacks, people from the Caucasus mountain area, and Asians, including foreign students. According to one Moscow newspaper, more than 100 foreigners from 23 countries were injured and four were killed in Moscow-area skinhead attacks between the summer of 2000 and March of 2002.16 Some skinheads threaten that Jews are next. However, other groups of skinheads support Israel, perceiving Israel as a bulwark against Arabs. “Arabs are the ‘kikes’ of today,” said one.
Factors Contributing to Anti-Semitism
The Jewish communal infrastructure in Russia and Ukraine also generates envy that manifests itself as anti-Semitism. Foreign institutions have created Jewish community services for the benefit of local Jewish populations.17 Many Russians, Ukrainians, and others are aware that Jewish elderly receive services and assistance not available to non-Jews;18 the “heseds” — local welfare centers organized by the Joint Distribution Committee — are visible in many cities, as are groups of elderly Jews eating free hot meals in restaurants arranged through the “hesed.”
Additionally, both individuals and the governments of the various post-Soviet states resent Jews’ ability to emigrate at will, perceiving this ability as causing “brain drain” and subsequent damage to the local economy and culture.
Another factor contributing to anti-Semitism in Russia and Ukraine may be the disproportionately large role of Jewish oligarchs in the Russian and Ukrainian economies.19 Two Jews, Vladimir Gusinsky and Boris Berezovsky, are the only oligarchs to be exiled from Russia.20 Several other Jews or half-Jews were prominent figures in the bank collapse and subsequent economic crises of the late 1990s. Viktor Pinchuk is considered by many to be the wealthiest man in Ukraine; his even wealthier counterpart in Russia is Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who does not publicly identify with the Russian Jewish community.
The Lack of a Civil Society
Another factor contributing to the growth of anti-Semitism in Russia and Ukraine is the lack of a civil society in the post-Soviet states. Concepts such as accountability, transparency, and conflict of interest are alien to local citizens. Most post-Soviet states lack not only fully functional legal systems, but also legal cultures. The Russian justice system often fails to pursue those who break Russian laws on ethnic hatred. That these are rarely enforced was acknowledged in a speech before the Duma on October 23, 2002, by Russian Prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov. Convictions and imprisonment almost never occur.
On the other hand, the Russian parliament recently enacted new anti-hatred legislation so broad that it can be employed to stifle legitimate political opposition and bar religious groups offensive to established religious organizations, such as the Russian Orthodox Church.21
Media in both Russia and Ukraine are increasingly restricted in their ability to communicate freely news that is troubling to political and/or economic authorities. Investigative journalism is among the most dangerous careers in both states, with media personnel having died under mysterious circumstances in each country. Human rights organizations are weak, some suffering harassment from government institutions.
The Fragility of Jewish Institutions
Post-Soviet Jewish institutions are fragile and dominated by foreign groups, whether Hasidic rabbis, the Joint Distribution Committee, or the Jewish Agency for Israel. Local Jewish organizational leadership lacks the skills, experience, and confidence to address issues in community relations, bigotry, and defamation.
It is difficult to identify even one indigenous post-Soviet Jew active in Jewish life, volunteer or professional, who can be called a leader — that is an individual who shows initiative, is responsive and responsible, a mobilizer who is viewed as a respected authority figure.22 The lack of indigenous leadership capable of dealing with anti-Semitism is a legacy of the Soviet system, which stifled those qualities essential to leadership.
The Specifics of Soviet Anti-Semitism
There are several major differences between post-Soviet anti-Semitism and the anti-Semitism so visible in Western Europe today. First, anti-Semitism in the post-Soviet states is largely free of Jewish anti-Christian imagery, as exemplified in the notorious political cartoon, which appeared in the Italian daily La Stampa. In this cartoon a tank emblazoned with a Star of David points its gun at the infant Jesus, who pleads, “Surely they do not want to kill me again?”
Second, post-Soviet anti-Semites do not usurp images of the Holocaust to use against Jews. This divergence occurs in part because few in the post-Soviet states acknowledge the horror of the Holocaust at all.
Third, the intellectual left is not a factor in generating anti-Semitism in post-Soviet Russia and Ukraine. One may even argue whether a significant intellectual left exists in these countries — though it seems there is an intellectual right in Russia.
Fourth, discussion and condemnation of Israel as the last colonial power is largely absent in Russia and Ukraine, in part because among the Russian and Ukrainian intelligentsia, some consider Russia to be the last colonial power — in Chechnya, violently so, and somewhat more discreetly in Ukraine and other former Soviet states where Russia controls the supply of energy and other critical commodities. Some Russians and Ukrainians also appear to have a fairly sophisticated understanding of historic Jewish ties to the Land of Israel.
Fifth, indigenous Russian and Ukrainian students in universities and institutes generally are not important participants in anti-Israel and/or anti-Semitic activity. Arab students are important and have caused problems in several cities, but they are monitored carefully, in part because many Russians and Ukrainians dislike Arabs and Moslems and are suspicious of them. Sixth, except for Arab students and aging Communists, Israel is not an important factor in generating anti-Semitism. Especially in Ukraine, the press tends to be pro-Israel. Unlike some individuals in Western Europe, Russians do not romanticize Arabs. Also, the large immigration of Jews from Russia and Ukraine to Israel means that many Russians and Ukrainians have ties to Israel and perceive Israel as part of the family.23
Seventh, few Russian Moslems have attacked Jews, unlike France, where most anti-Jewish violence seems to have been perpetrated by local Moslems. For the record, the Russian population appears to include about 18 million Moslems. A few Moslem clergy have made vicious verbal attacks on Israel, but these have not led to physical assaults on Jews or Jewish institutions.
Several other differences between Russia and Ukraine, on the one hand, and Europe, on the other, reflect badly on Russia and Ukraine. Unlike Western Europe, Russian politicians do not lose prestige for being anti-Semitic. In Europe, Jean-Marie Le Pen of France and Jurgen Mollemann of Germany have lost elections, in part because they are perceived as bigots.24 Russian bigots, however, seem to face no barriers in politics.
Additionally, European anti-Semites may oppose Jewish immigration to Israel because such immigration is perceived as strengthening Israel. Russians and Ukrainians may oppose indigenous Jewish immigration to Israel because they perceive it as weakening Russia and Ukraine through “brain drain” and because it is more difficult for non-Jews to emigrate. They are not automatically granted immigration rights in other countries like Jews are in Israel.
It is evident that no effective government policy regarding relations between ethnic groups exists in either Russia or Ukraine. Traditional bigotries continue to permeate both countries, their presence generated by a history of xenophobia, political and economic instability, poorly-developed institutions of civil society, and a lack among many in Russia and Ukraine of a sense of personal responsibility and tolerance. These conditions seem destined to persist for the foreseeable future, as each society struggles to define itself under changing circumstances in a new and unpredictable world.
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* All names are spelled in Russian or Ukranian
1. The above demographic estimates reflect assessments of demographers and individuals working in the field.
2. Regarding the Jewish population in other post-Soviet states, it is difficult to imagine anything but a bleak future in Moldova (the poorest country in Europe), Belarus, Armenia, Georgia, and the primarily Moslem states of Azerbaidzhan and Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tadzhikistan.) Economic deterioration, political instability, and other factors have been driving Jews from these areas into emigration for many years. The Jewish populations of the Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania), now often considered part of Central Europe, are also in decline. Of these 13 countries, only Belarus now has a Jewish population exceeding 20,000; the Jewish population in each of the others is under 10,000.
3. Chlenov, Mikhail, “The Jewish Community of Russia: Present-Day Situation and Prospects,” East European Jewish Affairs, Summer 2002, 32:1, p. 23.
4. See Izvestia, May 28 and May 30, 2002, and The New York Times, June 1, 2002.
5. See “Anti-Semitism Continues to Rise in 2002,” Post-Soviet Jewry Report, January 2003, p. 2. Post-Soviet Jewry Report is published by Action for Post-Soviet Jewry, a monitoring and advocacy group in Waltham, MA.
6. Among the most notable of these was the attack on the famed Brodsky synagogue in Kyiv in April 2002, perpetrated by angry soccer fans and skinheads after their team had lost a soccer game in a nearby stadium.
7. See The New York Times, August 25, 2002, for an article about Alexander Prokhanov, editor of Zavtra.
8. The Kyiv Post, an English-language biweekly owned by Americans, has published a strong editorial against the anti-Semitic philosophy of Personnel. See the December 26, 2002, issue of The Kyiv Post.
9. Nonetheless, a Kyiv court convicted Dmitry Volkov of a hate crime under Article 161 of the Ukrainian criminal code on March 4, 2003, for his role in the attack on the Brodsky synagogue. Five accomplices received suspended sentences. The criminal convictions appear to be the first under the hate-crime law since it was enacted shortly after Ukraine gained independence in 1991.
10. See The Washington Post, August 11, 2002. Between 5,000 and 10,000 blacks are believed to reside in Moscow.
11. Viktor Pinchuk, a prominent Dnipropetrovsk industrialist and member of the Ukrainian Rada, is the common-law husband of President Kuchma’s daughter. Pinchuk is a supporter of the Dnipropetrovsk Jewish community.
12. The first rightwing mass movement in Russia was the League of the Russian People, founded in 1904. A paramilitary group organized into cadres of 100 men each, it came to be known as the Black Hundreds. It was the Black Hundreds who organized the pogroms of the early 20th century. Their philosophy can be labeled “pre-fascist” or “proto-fascist.”
13. See Shenfield, Stephen D., Russian Fascism: Traditions, Tendencies, Movements (Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 2001), p. 17.
14. An estimate of 15,000 to 20,000 was given by Valery Komarov, acting head of the organized crime investigation unit of the Russian Ministry of the Interior, in a press conference on February 4, 2003. Of this number, said Mr. Komarov, more than 5,000 live in Moscow and about 3,000 live in St. Petersburg. Additionally, continued Mr. Komarov, there are 40 to 50 “aggressively oriented” groups of sports fans in Russia. See Itar-Tass, February 4, 2003.
15. Boris Mironov, a co-chairman of NDPR, was Minister of the Press in the government of Boris Yeltsin until dismissed in 1994 for anti-Semitic statements. Interviewed on a November 9, 2002, popular national television program, Mr. Mironov declared that Russia lives under a “Jewish yoke.” On the same program, he referred to Jews as “zhidy,” a derogatory term usually translated into English as “kikes.” He insisted that such a term was the correct name for Jews, opposing use of the non-judgmental “evrey.” Viktor Korchagin, the senior executive of NDPR, directs a publishing company that has printed several editions of Mein Kampf.
16. Nezavisamaya Gazeta, March 12, 2002. According to TimeEurope.com, April 22, 2002, the number of individuals killed by skinheads during this period was “more than a dozen.”
17. A late 1990’s survey in Russia showed that 52 percent of the “Russian population opposes the idea of having Jewish social and political organizations in Russia, in effect trying to limit access of ‘others’ to social and political institutions and thereby ‘defending’ themselves from the imaginary power and influence of other nationalities.” See Tamara Zurabashvili, “Rise of a New Nationalism? The Case of the Russian Federation,” article in Analysis of Current Events, 14:2 (May, 2002), p. 18. Analysis of Current Events is a publication of the Association for the Study of Nationalities, an organization that analyzes state- and nation-building in the post-Communist states.
18. “Righteous gentiles,” i.e., non-Jewish individuals who aided Jews in escaping Nazi persecution during World War II and non-Jews married to Jews also receive assistance. Some non-Jews living in close proximity to Jews also receive services from many Jewish welfare institutions in the post-Soviet states, as their exclusion might generate ill feeling toward Jews.
19. An oligarch often is defined as a member of a small group of wealthy individuals who exercises control over a government, usually for corrupt or selfish purposes.
20. Gusinsky identified strongly as a Jew and was one of the founders of the Russian Jewish Congress. Berezovsky converted to Christianity in 1994 and has maintained a distance from the Jewish community, but his Jewish ancestry is known to all. For information on Berezovsky, see an article entitled “Exiled Russian Oligarch Plots His Comeback” in The New York Times, February 18, 2003.
21. See The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and Associated Press dispatches, all of June 28, 2002. The law was passed by the Duma on June 27 and formally signed by President Vladimir Putin on July 10, 2002.
22. A possible exception is Vadim Rabynovych, a Ukrainian Jew who established the United Jewish Community of Ukraine, an institution that he directs. Mr. Rabynovych speaks out forcefully against anti-Semitism and in favor of Israel, but he is banned from the United States, Great Britain, and other countries for his involvement in organized crime, narcotics trafficking, sale of weapons to North Korea and other rogue states, and contract murder. Rabynovych evokes a sense of revulsion in the West, but some Ukrainian Jews admire him because he is philanthropic.
23. Some in Russia even characterize Israel as the “sixteenth republic,” a benign reference to the former Soviet Union and its fifteen republics.
24. Mollemann, accused of inciting anti-Semitism and accepting illegal donations, lost his official positions in the Free Democratic Party after it finished fourth in German elections in September 2002.
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Dr. Betsy Gidwitz, now an independent consultant in Chicago, was formerly a Soviet-area specialist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She travels extensively in the Soviet Union successor states and the JCPA has published a number of her insightful reports on events there. This text is based on Dr. Gidwitz’s lecture delivered at the JCPA’s second series of Herbert Berman memorial lectures on October 27, 2002.