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Institutionalization of the Post-Communist Jewish Movement: Organizational Structures, Ruling Elites, and Political Conflicts

Filed under: World Jewry
Publication: Jewish Political Studies Review

Jewish Political Studies Review

Jewish Political Studies Review 14:1-2 (Spring 2002)


Soviet Jews endured administrative, political, and societal anti-Semitism for years, and by the early 1960s the rich political tradition of Eastern European Jewry had been almost totally lost. In the post-Soviet period, a Jewish institutional infrastructure began to appear and develop, leading to the political advancement of a Jewish communal elite. However, the political institutionalization of the Jewish movement has become somewhat controversial and there is still some unfinished business as to its ultimate character.


Despite the two recent waves of mass migration of Jews from the USSR and post-Soviet states, as well as negative demographic processes among them, the CIS and Baltic states still contain the second largest concentration of Russian-speaking Jewry (after Israel) in the world. According to various estimates, between 600,000 and 1.3 million Jews and members of their families still live in the former Soviet Union.1

Although the situation of Jews in the various post-Soviet nations varies considerably, there are also a few common features. All Jews have made an “internal migration” from having no national status in the former Soviet Union to having an ethnic-national status in the post-Soviet states. As a result, they had to face not inconsiderable problems of cultural, linguistic, ethnic, and national identity.

The majority of Soviet and post-Soviet Jews belong to two groups. One group includes the Sephardi communities of Central Asia (Bucharan Jews), Caucasus (Mountain Jews) and Georgia. The second group is Russian Ashkenazi, primarily living in the European states of the FSU, including Russia north of the Caucasus, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, and the Baltic states. These groups can be regarded as sub-ethnic entities of Eastern European Jewry, having a common destiny and values, and enjoying their own ethnic national identity, despite assimilation, Russification, and substantial alienation from Jewish tradition. This identity is a result of local Jewish cultural tradition, the pressure of the local social and political environment, as well as ethnic Jewish consciousness, and is rooted in the historical memory and social experience.2 A number of elements of this Russian-Jewish identity, which can be better understood as being based upon value orientations rather than evident cultural differences, were preserved in the Jewish entities both in the post-Soviet states as well as in the countries that received immigrants from the USSR/CIS.

In addition, a process of searching for adequate models for Jewish communal organization and political institutionalization in the local public sphere is occurring in the post-Soviet states and in the new Russian Jewish diaspora (i.e., Israel, the U.S, Canada, and Germany). These processes, so necessary for the preservation of Eastern European Jewish identity and for the working out and development of public policy for these communities, have yet to be studied in a comprehensive way. To fill this gap, the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs initiated a research project called “The Revival of Organized Jewish Life in the Former Soviet Union,” which represents a continuation of the long-standing and ongoing interest of the Jerusalem Center in the Jews of Eastern Europe.


Factors of Revival of Organized Jewish Life

The establishment and legalization of the Jewish communities in the ex-USSR states occurred under the impact of three basic factors. The first involved the internal resources and needs of the local Jewish communities. The second was connected to official Jewish policies and relations with authorities, as well as the non-Jewish environment of the communities. The third related to the position of the Jewish world, including the relations of international and Israeli organizations to the “new” Jewish communities.

The rich communal, cultural, and ethnic political traditions of Eastern European Jewry had been almost totally lost by the early 1960s. The overwhelming majority of local Jewish social, cultural, educational, and political structures, including religious communities and the strong Zionist movement, had been destroyed by the end of the 1920s. An overwhelming majority of the remaining nonpolitical structures were lost due to Nazi genocide of the Jewish population during World War II and the Stalinist terror in the pre- and post-war decades.

In the following years, Soviet Jews lived in an atmosphere of administrative, political, and societal anti-Semitism, which almost totally precluded the existence of traditional forms of Jewish communal, cultural, and political organization. The official position of the Communist authorities fluctuated between suppression of any form of organized Jewish life and occasional agreement to the activities of a few religious and cultural organizations,3 together with the periodic creation of “official” Jewish structures.

These structures evolved from Jewish sections of Communist party committees during the 1920s and early 1930s4 to the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee of the 1940s, and the Soviet Public Anti-Zionist Committee in Moscow with branches in union republics and some provinces, which was created by the CPSU Central Committee and the KGB in 1983, and which became a mere parody of Jewish public representation.5

Even minimal attempts by these organizations to extend the margins of control and publicity allocated by the Soviet regime were immediately suppressed.6 The few Jewish religious communities in the USSR were in a similar situation, being under day-to-day control of state commissioners for religious affairs. Together with the KGB and Communist party committees, these commissioners created obstacles preventing the religious organizations from playing a role in the community, a trend evident in the first post-World War II years.7

Illegal Jewish groups became an alternative to these legal and quasi-legal Jewish public institutions in the USSR in the post-war period. Due to the almost total absence of any legal background for political institutionalization, an independent Jewish movement in the USSR was represented by a few underground groups of activists struggling for aliya as well as for national and civil rights. The nucleus of the movement – a community of refuseniks – was viewed by many of its own leading members as unstable and highly fluid, and, at least regarding Moscow and Leningrad, had a poor organizational and ideological structure.8

The major underground Jewish activists were concentrated in the big cities where, in the mid-1970s, there was a split into what were termed “emigrationists” (or “politicians”) and “culturalists.” The emigrationists insisted on the political struggle for their right to immigrate to Israel, while the culturalists favored a struggle for the revival of Jewish culture in the USSR as a basis for the development of national identity among local Jews.

In practice, however, both Zionist streams saw emigration as the only way to solve the national problem of Soviet Jewry, and their differences had more to do with methods rather than the aims of their struggle. In the early 1980s, representatives of both groups cooperated in the underground Ihud Ha-morim (Hebrew Teachers Association), founded in late 1984.9 Only a small group among the culturalists (the so-called “legalists”) thought of the revival and development of Jewish culture in the USSR as a long-term process, and because of that they were ready for some sort of cooperation with the authorities.

The rise of organized Jewish life in the Soviet Union began in the late 1980s, during the Gorbachev liberalization era, and continued into the post-perestroika period. This process occurred under the impact of three basic factors.

The first was the legalization of activities of what remained of the Jewish national democratic movement of the 1970s and early 1980s. Survivors of that movement returned to the idea of creating independent Jewish organizations under perestroika. This was also the period when previously latent controversies in the Jewish movement of the 1970s and 1980s surfaced, including the controversies between “politicians” and culturalists.

In the late 1980s, activation of the independent cultural movement of Soviet Jewry resulted in the establishment of the semi-legal Jewish Culture Association in Moscow, which also included the Zionist Ihud Ha-morim.10 However, in September 1989, the Ihud Ha-morim split with the departure of a radical group headed by Lev Gorodetsky, who left the association in order to found the Zionist Federation (Irgun Zioni) of the USSR. The majority of the organization, however, strongly disapproved of this attempt at “politicization” of the USSR Jewish movement.

The first open conflict between the two trends occurred at the first convention of the Va’ad of Jewish Organizations and Communities of the USSR in Moscow in December 1989. The “radical Zionists” headed by Irgun Zioni leader Lev Gorodetsky insisted on the creation of a repatriation committee with the aim of the mass evacuation of Soviet Jews to Israel. Opposing this were the so-called “moderate Zionists” and culturalists (Michail Chlenov, Yosef Zissels, Samuel Zilber, and others) who suggested the creation of the Va’ad of Jewish Organizations and Communities, and Jewish communal autonomy.11

Besides the legalization of the independent Jewish movement of the 1970s and 1980s, the revival of organized Jewish life in the USSR and post-Soviet states was strongly affected by the activities of the Soviet authorities. Toward the end of the perestroika period, in 1988-1990, the Communist authorities decided to meet the initiative of the Soviet Jewish intelligentsia and sponsored the creation of the Societies of Jewish Culture (SJC), with the aim of retaining control over the newly revived Jewish movement. This final attempt in CPSU history to build manageable Jewish institutions was also a reaction by the Communist establishment, rapidly losing its power, to the necessity of changing its political image and its priorities vis-a-vis the Jews.

At the same time, some SJCs demonstrated another trend – the attempt by Jewish activists to use the existing legal framework of these organizations for Jewish cultural, educational, and Zionist activities. In other words, regardless of the plans of their initiators, these SJCs stimulated Jewish activities and legalized the creation of Jewish national cultural organizations.12

The third important factor involved the activities of Israeli and other foreign Jewish organizations, which already in the late 1980s had actively supported and sometimes planted the seeds of organized Jewish life in the USSR and the CIS.

The first such professional structures were created even before perestroika by Western Jewish organizations, first of all in the U.S., which acted on behalf of Jewish emigration from the USSR. The most prominent among them were the Union of Councils for Soviet Jewry and the National Conference for Soviet Jews.13

Even more influential was Lishkat Ha-kesher (“The Liaison Bureau,” also known as Nativ), which was created in 1952 as a branch of Israel’s Prime Minister’s Office in order to maintain connections with Eastern European Jewry (then behind the “Iron Curtain”), and to coordinate the struggle for their right of emigration. Beforeperestroika, Nativ was a major channel of connection with and support for the underground Jewish Zionist movement in the USSR,14 and in the early perestroikaperiod it also became a channel for the infiltration of other Israeli and foreign Jewish organizations.

After the breakup of the Soviet Union, in addition to Lishkat Ha-kesher, the Jewish Agency for Israel (Sochnut), the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), and foreign Jewish religious movements (mainly Hasidic and Reform, but in selected cases also modern Orthodox and Conservative) also had a major impact on the CIS Jewish movement. In early 1994, the process of active development of the institutional infrastructure of these organizations quickened. At that time, these organizations took over important spheres of the Jewish community. They sponsored numerous ulpans (Hebrew language schools), Jewish pre-schools, Sunday schools, and other Jewish educational establishments, and numerous Jewish charitable funds and communal service institutions. To this one must add an impressive system of communal centers, culture, youth and veteran clubs, leadership training seminars, and Jewish summer camps.15


Organizational Models of Post-Soviet Jewish Community-Building

All these factors brought about the establishment of numerous Jewish organizations, mainly during 1989-1991, which was a period of increased Jewish emigration from the USSR. Already in the early 1990s their main hierarchical levels had appeared.

At the base of this pyramid were the numerous functional Jewish organizations. Besides the SJCs, there were various educational institutions (day and Sunday schools, study circles, academic, public enlightenment, and pedagogical societies, etc.), humanitarian institutions (charitable societies and welfare foundations), synagogues and religious communities (Orthodox, Reform, and, to a lesser extent, Conservative), memorial societies, youth, women’s and sports groups, and Jewish media.

The majority of these organizations were very small, with intense rivalry between them. The role of these Jewish institutions, which dominated the Jewish movement between 1988 and 1992, decreased by the mid-1990s, and most of their functions were inherited by Jewish city federations and communities.

These territorial or municipal communities represented the middle level of Jewish communal structures in the CIS. Community-building was one of the slogans of the USSR Jewish dissident movement during the underground period, and former refuseniks and “prisoners of Zion” tried to revitalize their communities under the new conditions created during the Gorbachev liberalization.

The idea of a secular municipal community as a major institution of Jewish national life was articulated in May 1989 in Riga’s Roundtable on Jewish Culture. That meeting, which was the first legal conference of independent Jewish organizations since the late 1920s, gathered together 120 participants representing 49 Jewish organizations from 34 cities in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Moldova, as well as the Central Asian and Baltic republics. This conference formulated the dominant principles of Jewish communal life: communal independence, the service (non-administrative) character of communal activities, and the idea that equal attention should be paid to aliya and to the founding of institutions of Jewish national-cultural autonomy in the diaspora.16 Some time later the idea of transforming Jewish organizations into professional subdivisions of Jewish municipal communities was also formulated. Such an opinion was, for example, formulated in the course of discussions during the spring and summer of 1992 about the future of Jewish community-building in Ukraine.17

The municipal community became a widely-recognized phenomenon of local organization of Jewish life in the FSU in the 1990s, and presents different models of uniting Jews and/or their structures. Among them one can note a more traditional model, where the synagogue functions as the foundation stone for Jewish communal life in a city. In other cases this role may have been taken over by a local Jewish school. In some places, mainly in Ukraine and the Baltic States, city and regional Jewish councils have assumed the function of central Jewish communal organs.

Ukraine, as well as Belarus and some Russian and Kazakhstan cities, suggested a model of Jewish municipal community as an association of all (or most) of the local Jewish organizations, united by the town’s coordinating body (a city Jewish Va’ad). Not a few communities were created on a regional or oblast (provincial) basis. Examples of this include the United Jewish Community of Crimea, with its center in Simpheropol, as well as the Jewish community of Chernigov province, and the regional association of 25 Jewish communities in small cities of Ukraine, with its center in Korsun-Shevchenkovskii.

Local chapters of international Jewish organizations, especially JDC-sponsored Hesed welfare funds and recently created Jewish community centers (JCCs), also play an important community-creating role. This process is being assisted by the Jewish Agency, which is currently beginning an ambitious project of promoting Jewish communal, educational, cultural, and identity-building institutions in the FSU.

In addition, in places such as Moscow, Kiev, Minsk, Dneipropetrovsk, and Kharkov, there is a model of Jewish community similar to the Jewish federation found in American and Canadian cities.

Finally, the top echelon of post-Soviet Jewish organizations was comprised of Jewish umbrella organizations, which appeared during perestroika and post-perestroika times. Some of them involved nothing more than a declaration, while others really united tens and hundreds of local, regional, and sectarian Jewish groups.

The first were the Jewish Va’ads, or associations of Jewish organizations and communities, as well as the short-lived Zionist federations. Later, at the beginning of the 1990s, associations of Jewish religious organizations appeared, and Jewish congresses were founded during the second part of the decade. Finally there were the all-encompassing organizations – the Jewish Confederation of Ukraine, the Jewish Federation of Russia, and the association of umbrella structures of the post-Soviet countries – the Va’ad of the CIS.18


The Formation of Post-Soviet Jewish Communal Elites and Political Cleavages in the Jewish Movement

The appearance and development of the Jewish institutional infrastructure in the post-Soviet period provided a base for the crystallization and political advancement of a Jewish communal elite. This elite included various categories of Jewish political figures. The social nature of these leadership groups was formed under the impact of the tradition of functioning power elites and pluralistic elites of the late Soviet and early post-Soviet epochs. This political class, according to the existing definitions, included “interlocking groups of people” that “rules through a combination of coercion and manipulation” and “rests on mutual self-interest, ideological identity and privilege.” In their turn, “pluralistic elites share authoritative power along different dimensions,…power is dispersed and often the elite is responsible and responsive to members of its constituency…and the relationship between elite and non-elite is…based on trust and reciprocity.”19

A combination of these definitions may be applied to the elites of the Jewish movement in a majority of Eastern European states. They may also be categorized as “orthodox,” “idealists,” or “prag-matists.” Differences in their worldview and ideology as well as a generation gap between some of them overlapped and helped to create the character of Jewish politics in the USSR and CIS during perestroika and post-perestroika times.

The first group of the 1980s and 1990s Jewish movement was recruited from the old elite – representatives of the former “Jewish Communist nomenclatura” – activists in anti-Zionist committees and other “court” Jews – as well as loyalists who supported the idea of a socialist Jewish culture. Representatives of the older generation of local Jews usually prevail among these politicians. The mother tongue of the majority of this group was Yiddish, even though most of them finished Soviet schools, sometimes in Yiddish but more often in Russian or national non-Jewish schools. The childhood and youth of this generation witnessed war, the Holocaust, and post-war, anti-Semitic campaigns.

These people themselves suffered from state-sponsored anti-Semitism. Being a significant part of the Soviet Russian-language intelligentsia, they felt humiliated by the authority’s lack of trust in them and the lack of appreciation for their total acceptance of the regime. The national and political consciousness of this generation of Jewish politicians featured a combination of Soviet patriotism, heightened sensitivity to social threat, and a reverence for popular Yiddish Socialist culture, which brought them to the leadership of the Jewish pro-government organizations which were created by the government in the second half of the 1980s.

The second category of the new Jewish political elite was composed of former members of Jewish national and human rights movements, wherein the representatives of another generation prevailed. Most of them had witnessed the outbreak and decline of Khrushchev’s “thaw” (liberal reforms) in the USSR in their youth. Their parents were already unable to give them any systematic Jewish education. The majority of these people, even if they understood Yiddish, were hardly able to read or communicate in this language. However, the Jewish identity of this category of future politicians was formed under the effect of the still substantial remnants of the Jewish traditional culture. The explanation of one of these activists was very indicative:

Were my parents secular people? Yes, and no. In fact, they were Jews, what it meant in their time and in their milieu. My father and mother were very Jewish people, and it could not be different….That was the milieu that formed my Jewishness. I knew that it is good to be Jewish, it did not have any religious character, it was just a part of me. Of course, I had a friend, whose grandfather visited synagogue….I had heard songs, written by first Zionists, that now nobody has any idea about. Thus, a sort of religious Zionism formed in my mind. But more precisely, I simply was a Jew. Everything [in our Jewish identity] was interconnected, and everything was already transformed.20

Another important feature for the development of the national identity of this group was a “societal Zionism,” which included a romanticized image of the State of Israel. Interest in their ethnic roots, opposition to national discrimination, and latent confrontation with the authorities led them naturally into the national and human rights movement and to the struggle for aliya. Although most refuseniks and prisoners of Zion of the 1970s and 1980s, who were released as a result of Gorbachev’s liberalization policy, made aliya as soon as the gates were opened, many of them joined local Jewish political and communal movements.

The third category, the pragmatists, consisted primarily of representatives of the new generation of the Jewish elite who emerged in the perestroika and post-perestroika periods, and who previously had nothing (or almost nothing) to do with either official, informal, or underground Jewish activities. The majority of them grew up under waves of anti-Semitism, and witnessed the Jewish emigration of the 1970s. Their milieu was the cynical and disoriented society of the late Soviet epoch.

The share of people with advanced academic degrees was higher than the average population. Yiddish, for most of these future young Jewish politicians, was the “secret language” of communication of their parents with their grandparents, and the knowledge of this language, if it was not studied specifically, included a dozen familiar sentences and idioms. The Jewish identity of these people was promoted by the pressure of the local, largely anti-Semitic environment, as well as by self-determination as Jews (in an ethnic understanding of Jewishness), rooted in family and historical memory and (often negative) personal experience.

For many of these primarily young Jewish politicians, the ideas of Jewish nationalism were very attractive. At the same time, the majority of those who joined the organized Jewish movement in the late 1980s and early 1990s demonstrated a low interest in the ideological aspects of communal activities, while giving priority to career opportunities.21 A peculiarity of the situation in the post-Communist countries was that the representatives of all these generations entered Jewish politics almost simultaneously, which brought the contradictions of their views, values, and political behaviors to the fore.

Representatives from this group became the backbone of the post-USSR Jewish movement leadership. First there were the leaders of the community as well as leaders of local and umbrella organizations which made up the “communal polity.” Then there was the “communal bureaucracy,” represented by the officials of welfare, educational, and other professional organizations in the CIS branches of foreign and, to a lesser extent, local Jewish organizations.

The merging of these groups in their roles as public leaders and professional administrators was tentative. As was correctly mentioned by co-chairman of the USSR Jewish Va’ad, Yosef Zissels, “the majority of CIS professional Jewish politicians, and leaders of communities and associations, work in and get paid by foreign Jewish organizations.”22

There is an obvious reason for this situation: some 85-90 percent of professional activities in Jewish communal institutions in the CIS are funded from abroad. About 15-20 percent of this amount goes to the management of services provided by the foreign organizations.

In addition to their role in the institutional infrastructure of the Eastern European branches of Israeli and international Jewish institutions, representatives of these elite groups also dominate the management and professional subdivisions of umbrella organizations such as the Associations of Jewish Organizations and Communities and Jewish Confederations. On the eve of the dissolution of the USSR, and shortly thereafter, organizations of this type appeared in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and some other former Soviet states. In the majority of cases, the initiative to create these structures came from the former activists of independent Jewish movements.

A concurrent trend was represented by pro-government umbrella organizations such as the Jewish Council of Ukraine (JCU), created in 1992 by the loyalist faction of the Ukrainian Jewish elite, and the Central Body of Jewish Cultural Autonomy of Russia, established in 1997-98 by former activists of the legalist faction of the local Jewish cultural movement.

Rabbis comprise an additional group of post-Communist Jewish leaders. Initially, during perestroika, the majority were foreigners, coming from Israel, the U.S., and other countries. Later, this group was joined by newly-trained local rabbis and by leaders of religious movements and communities of different streams of Judaism (mainly Hasidic and modern Orthodox, but also Reform and Conservative).

The political advancement of Jewish religious leaders started in the mid-1990s. In the second half of the decade, rabbis headed Jewish municipal communities in a number of CIS cities, replacing, or incorporating representatives of both the “loyalist” and “independent” clusters of local Jewish leadership.23 Jewish religious leaders also possess a network of communal institutions, and have their own countrywide umbrella organizations – associations of Jewish religious communities and organizations. The most prominent of these are the Association of Jewish Religious Organizations and Communities of Ukraine, the Federation of Jewish Religious Organizations and Communities of Russia (FEROOR), and the Federation of Jewish Communities (Habad)/ Or Avner Educational and Cultural Fund.

The end of the 1990s also witnessed the creation of another type of Jewish umbrella organization – the Jewish congresses. The initiative for their creation came from a new elite in the Jewish movement – an influential group of Jewish businessmen, including local, foreign, and those who had returned after making aliya.

Their motives for entering the Jewish political arena were both national and personal, including physical and political security. This group included V. Goussinsky, V. Khodorkovskii, V. Malkin, V. Rabinovich, M. Gravets, E. Zviagelskii, A. Maiberg, V. Pinchuk, G. Surkes, and N. Feldman, most of whom had previously paid little attention to Jewish communal affairs. Evidently, leadership status in ethnic communities, and in particular the Jewish community, was a respectable way to solve certain problems under post-Soviet conditions.

The creation of the Russian Jewish Congress in January 1996, as well as the All-Ukrainian Jewish Congress in April 1997, and the Jewish Congress of Kazakhstan in November 1999, followed a more or less similar model. In each case, as in the Russian Jewish Congress, headed by Vladimir Goussinsky, an international financial, industrial, and media tycoon, the “bankers became its moving force…while rabbis initiated and inspired it.”24

The all-Ukrainian Jewish Congress, with the Ukrainian-Israeli businessman Vadim Rabinovich as its president, originally came from the common initiative of a group of Jewish businessmen and the Kiev Center of the Tse’irei-Habad movement. The Jewish Congress of Kazakhstan (JCK), founded in November 1999, has a similar structure.25 The dominant role in the creation of the JCK was played by local Jewish businessmen, supported by the Kazakhstan branch of the Federation of Jewish Religious Communities (Habad).

The Jewish congresses created a decisively new situation in the ex-USSR Jewish community. With the creation of these congresses, the Jewish movement was joined by a new influential group of politicians, financially independent of the international Jewish organizations, and thus ready to suggest, or even impose, their own rules of the game.26

Post-Soviet Jewry, still numerous and possessing a developed network of communal institutions, by the 1990s had become almost totally dependent on external material resources. As a result, the entering of Jewish businessmen ready to invest in the Jewish movement initially did not meet with serious opposition. From this point of view, the nature of the political leadership of business politicians in the CIS Jewish movement is similar to the leadership of Western Jewish communities in decline such as in South Africa (funded by Jewish business donors like Mendel Kaplan), or the Jewish communities of Argentina, headed until recently by the Jewish owners of two leading Argentinian commercial banks.

It should be noted that the Jewish congresses of the CIS countries consciously took over the function of “donor-controller” for other local Jewish organizations. This intention, for instance, is well defined in the Declaration of Principles and Mission Statement of the Russian Jewish Congress.27 The Jewish Congress of Kazakhstan, which was registered as a charitable foundation, according to its executive director, F. Osin, also defines itself as a “donor organization” for small local Jewish communities (which the majority are).28 The All-Ukrainian Jewish Congress, which was launched in April 1997, was based on the same idea. Under the impact of other Ukrainian Jewish leaders, the AUJC declared at its second convention the wish “to become the core of the united Jewish community of Ukraine.”29Soon after this convention, the Congress was practically reduced to being a financial-political overseer.30 Apparently this model is the most adequate way of implementing the business and political interests of their leaders. Evidently due to the combination of ethnic and patriotic considerations in the activities of Jewish political businessmen in the ex-USSR, with their personal political and economic interests, Jewish congresses became a factor in a new political cleavage within the Jewish community.31

In institutional terms, this new political cleavage led to the creation of “super” federations – the Jewish Confederation of Ukraine in April 1999, and the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia, founded in January 2000 with the active participation of Habad leaders. In fact, both organizations became the counterbalance to the Jewish congresses in their respective countries.


Elites and Masses in Post-Communist Jewish Politics: Factors Affecting Participation and Control

The realization of ideological, cultural, social, and other differences in the Jewish public square has had a predominantly elitist character. In addition, the Soviet legacy and post-Soviet political practice has had a great impact on the political culture of these groups and their motivation for participation in Jewish politics. Jewish movement leaders and other experts who have tried to examine these motivations differ in their approach. According to Chief Rabbi of Kiev and Ukraine Ya’akov Dov Bleich, the major factors for involvement in political life are “money and power.”32 Betsy Gidwitz, an American expert on post-Soviet Jewry, presented this opinion in an even more disappointing way. Her evaluation of modern Eastern European Jewish leadership finds that “Jewish volunteers or professional leaders…too often have been motivated by visions of economic gain, raw power, or, in some cases, even the hope of legitimacy and credibility against potential prosecution for criminal activity.”33 Michael Frenkel, editor-in-chief of Kiev’s Jewish newspaper, Hadashot, and one of the leaders of the local Jewish community, claims that the Jewish movement attracts people with an interest in Jewish national revival in Ukraine as well as emigration, and to advance their economic interests and personal ambitions.34

It could be argued that, in political life, Jewish leaders and activists are guided by a sophisticated combination of pragmatic and idealistic motivations for their activities. Among them are “socio-centric” motives, such as the struggle for spiritual and political rights of Jewish communities, or groups of interests which are in organic symbiosis with “egocentric-instrumental” ones, such as money, relations, privileges, etc., as well as for “egocentric-autonomous” reasons (power, prestige, and respect). At any time, one or another dimension could prevail, reflecting the interests of specific groups or leaders.

Obviously, the division of these interests became the basis for ideological, cultural, social, and other cleavages in the post-Communist Jewish communities. These cleavages naturally have a predominantly elitist character, and are seen through the confrontation of different political factions, connected to the above mentioned ruling groups of the Jewish community – communal and bureaucratic polities, religious leadership, and business elite.

The strengthening of the “technocratic” elements has had an influence on the process of political decision-making in the communities through the combination of political leadership and public administrative roles, and their concentration in the hands of communal “professionals.” The communal bureaucracy, rabbis, and Jewish entrepreneurs provided a place for advancement of the semi-formal power structures. These structures, to some extent, became channels for mutual adaptation and competitive cooperation of various post-Soviet Jewish elites.

At the same time it is clear that the sphere of major Jewish politics in Ukraine is reserved for the political elite. The proportion of the Jewish population which is actually involved in the Jewish movement, besides aliya to Israel, is not significant (estimates are from 2-3 to 10-15 percent, depending on locality).35 Kiev sociologist Nikolai Churilov, who studied the Jewish population of Kiev at the beginning of the 1990s, reports results that were very close to ours. According to him, only about 5.5 percent declared membership in a Jewish community (cultural, religious, or political), and another 6 percent participated in the activities of these organizations.36

The 1992 census of the Jewish populations of Kiev, Minsk, and Moscow conducted by Robert Brymm and Rozalina Ryvkina also showed that the percentage of Jews actively involved in communal activities was never more than 9 percent, and about one-third of their respondents were involved in some form of Jewish communal activity.37 Similar figures were seen in the census of the Jewish population of three Russian and five Ukrainian cities conducted in 1992-1993 and again in 1997-1998 by Zvi Gitelman, Vladimir Chervyakov, and Vladimir Shapiro.38 According to Betsy Gidwitz, who during the last decade has studied the process of revival of organized Jewish life in many CIS cities, “it is widely believed that only 10 to 20 percent of all post-Soviet Jews participate in any Jewish activity.”39

However, it very much depends on one’s determination of what constitutes “Jewish activity.” The 10-20 percent participation figure might be true for principal places of Jewish concentration such as Moscow, St. Petersburg or, in Ukraine, Kiev, Dnepropetrovsk, and Odessa. In the medium-sized Jewish population centers, the involvement of Jews in communal affairs is estimated to be between 30 to 40 percent, and even higher in the smaller centers.


The Jewish Movement and Post-Soviet Politics

A new round of political controversy in the post-Communist Jewish movement strengthened another problem – the almost total absence of direct political representation at the national level. This factor was a result of the conditions of origin and legalization of organized Jewish life in the USSR and its descendant states.

When opposition movements were being created between 1988 and 1991, Jewish organizations were somewhat involved in national politics. Some of the participants in the revival of the Jewish movement hoped for Jewish national rebirth in the context of the struggle for a liberal-democratic Soviet Union, or independent national-democratic states after the downfall of the USSR. Thus, Jewish leaders played an active role in the creation of the Council of Nationalities of Rukh – the Ukrainian opposition national democratic movement.40 In their turn, loyalist Societies of Jewish Culture captured a prominent place in the Council of National Societies, created by the Ukrainian Communist establishment as a counterbalance to the Rukh’s Council of Nationalities. Leaders of the Society of Jewish Culture in the Ukraine republic believed at the time that the authorities supported a Jewish cultural rebirth.

However, success in mobilizing Jews in the general political context was limited. 1990 and 1991 were peak years for emigration of Jews from the USSR to Israel. It is also indicative that dominant among the motivations for emigration in those years were non-material factors such as worry about their children’s future, fear of inter-ethnic conflicts, disappointment in Soviet ideals and values, and the wish to be in their own homeland.41

The majority of those who preferred to stay in the USSR reacted very carefully to promises by the government and the opposition. Most of Soviet Jewry did not consider themselves to be part of socialist renewal in the USSR or the building of independent states such as Ukraine, Estonia, and Georgia.

Even more importantly, while decentralization in the USSR increased in 1990-1991, many republics of the Soviet Union saw the establishment of a bloc of national democrats together with local “national Communists,” which promoted a comparatively easy way for these countries to be independent.42 One of the results of this “consensus” was a gradual decrease in the interest by both “Communist pragmatics” and opposition “democrats” as well as elites from pro-government and independent Jewish movements in continued mutual political struggle. With the conditions of ethnic conflict appearing in many areas of the USSR, growing economic crises, and strengthening political opposition in the early 1990s, there was much less focus on Jews, as well.

The political status of Jewish communities was a result of this situation. Even in the first years of independence, the disproportion between intensive and dynamic intercommunal politics and the modest representation of Jews in the post-Soviet national political arena became obvious.

The ethnic factor, which played an important and in some cases even dominant role in late Soviet and post-Soviet politics, promoted the quick transformation of many of the ethnic cultural organizations into political movements and parties. However, the Jewish movement is an exception – no Jewish community of the CIS ever formed a “sectarian” political structure in order to get official recognition in government.

There are numerous reasons for this. First of all, the political culture and historical experience of Soviet Jewry delegitimizes the very idea of ethnic mobilization in politics. In addition, there is an emigrationist orientation among Jews. There is also the influence of post-Soviet political tradition which allows for the presence of some ethnicity in the public square. However, the margins of political presence of Jewish ethnicity are still very limited, regardless of the ending of state-sponsored anti-Semitism. Many examples of this were evident during the parliamentary and presidential elections in Russia and Ukraine in 1998, 1999, and 2000. In the course of these campaigns, the Jewish roots of some of the candidates brought out the anti-Semitic rhetoric of their political opponents.43

It is indicative that many Jewish public figures see national and Jewish politics as mutually exclusive. Usually, leaders of Jewish organizations carefully acknowledge the political neutrality of their institutions. In turn, public figures of Jewish origin, widely represented among city mayors, ministers, legislative deputies at all levels, those in the governing organs of the different parties, as well as among the bureaucratic and business elite, often distance themselves from the organized Jewish movement, are not particularly interested in Jewish ethnic issues, and thus can hardly be looked upon as representatives of the Jewish community.

This approach was evident in the declaration of Russian Duma (parliament) Deputy Speaker Artur Chilingarov, who probably represents the position of many of his colleagues. In his discussion with a delegation from the National Conference for Soviet Jewry and the American Jewish Committee, Chilingarov said: “Jewish dominance in the economy was accepted in the post-Soviet society for a limited period of time, but an anti-Semitic reaction developed when Jews moved from banking, property ownership and development, and oil into Russian politics.” He mentioned that Vladimir Goussinsky and Roman Abramovich were among those Jews who moved from “acceptable fields of Russian life into those that were inappropriate for Jews.”44 An opinion poll conducted in Russia at the end of 1997 showed considerable opposition by the local non-Jewish population to an increase of Jewish participation in government.45

As a result, the use of personal (i.e., patron-client) connections by Jewish communal leaders became the basis of their political influence. This trend became even more obvious when Jewish businessmen entered the Jewish movement and headed a few umbrella organizations as well as some leading municipal communities.

There are a few examples of known Russian, Ukrainian, and Moldavian oligarchs of Jewish origin who head influential Jewish organizations and are said to control parliamentary factions, political parties, public associations, national TV, radio stations, and newspapers. Vadim Rabinovich, a media tycoon and president of the All-Ukrainian Jewish Congress (AUJC), and Grigory Surkis, former vice-president of the AUJC who, in late 1997, replaced Rabinovich as a confidante of Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, together with Viktor Pinchuk (another former AUJC vice-president and a founding member of the Jewish Confederation of Ukraine – EKU), are listed by the Kiev-based Institute of Politics among the five most important of Ukraine’s oligarchs.46

This trend can also be seen at the communal level. For instance, the president of the Brooklyn-Torgbud Company, M. Kotlyarevsky, is also the head of the Board of Trustees of the Kiev Jewish community, which also includes 27 important Kiev businessmen, and the president of the Board of Trustees of the EKU. The Dnepropetrovsk Jewish municipal community (the fourth largest in the CIS) is headed by Gennadi Bogolubov, who is also president of the financial giant, Privat Bank. Efim Zvyagilsky, a noted businessman, and former Donesk mayor and acting prime minister of Ukraine, is currently chairman of the Council of Regions of the EKU. All of these people are exerting a great influence in their areas.

However, observers think that many of the politician-businessmen joined the leadership of the Jewish movement in order to achieve personal political and business goals rather than to serve Jewish national interests. As Vitaly Malkin, REK vice president and owner of one of the leading banks in Russia, Russky Kredit bank, said, “many [Jews] have gained leading financial positions in Russia….But [they use them] to lobby for business reasons and not for Jewish causes.”47

Opportunities for simultaneous, and often effective, lobbying for Jewish communal interests are not ignored by these Jewish actors either. At the same time, such unofficial lobbying as a “by-product” of personal relations within informal groups of ruling elite often has an over-personalized and over-politicized character, which may negatively affect the unity of the Jewish movement.

This was seen during the presidential and parliamentary election campaigns in Ukraine and Russia during 1998-2000, demonstrating a high degree of involvement of Jewish businessmen, who also became politicians, in the activities of “oligarchic” and “nomenclaturial-bureaucratic” clans. The struggle of these clans with each other consequently impacted the confrontations of the “affiliated” Jewish organizations. The most prominent case was the year-long controversy between media tycoon and Russian Jewish Congress President Vladimir Goussinsky and noted businessman and politician Boris Berezovski.

Since 2000, Lev Levayev is also believed to be a part of Russian President Putin’s inner circle, and his pretensions to Jewish leadership are actively promoted by Putin’s administration and its head, Michail Voloshin. According to some sources, regional governments in Russia were advised to deal with the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia – FJCR (Habad) rather than with competing Jewish organizations.48 The Russian government’s show of favoritism toward the FJCR became obvious when Rabbi Ber Lazar, the Habad movement’s chief rabbi of Russia, was named in March 2001 to a high-profile Kremlin advisory panel that includes leaders of all religions officially recognized by the Russian government. The other chief rabbi of Russia, Adolf Shaievich, who was supported by the Russian Jewish Congress, was rejected.

According to observers, this was the Kremlin’s most serious attempt yet to decide who represents the country’s Jewish community. “Jews are becoming the hostages of non-Jewish interests,” said Roman Spector, a leader of the Russian Jewish Va’ad. Micah Naftalin, the national director of the Washington-based Union of Councils for Soviet Jews, supported this position. According to him, “by replacing one Jewish leader with another, the Kremlin is deliberately provoking divisions within the Jewish community.”49 Thus, the combined pressure on Vladimir Goussinsky by the Kremlin, both on political and Jewish fronts, finally made him give up his powerful NTV company, as well as resign from his position as RJC president.50

A similar situation occurred in Ukraine on the eve of the presidential elections in 1999, where there was a struggle to be Kuchma’s main Jewish backer between Vadim Rabinovich, president of the Ukrainian Jewish Congress (and also head of Rico Capital financial group and the Ukraine-Israeli Chamber of Commerce), and another noted Jewish businessman, Gregory Surkis (head of a powerful Kiev political and financial clan), as well as Viktor Pinchuk. The latter two are connected to the rival Jewish umbrella organization – the Jewish Confederation of Ukraine.51 Patronage of the Jewish Confederation by Surkis and Pinchuk, who are considered to be among Ukraine’s richest and most powerful men, means “a battle of political-financial heavyweights.”52 Rabinovich, in contrast to his Russian counterpart Goussinsky, did not leave his position in the AUJC, but at the same time evidently lost the political battle at the national level.

This comparatively new model of political conflict in Jewish communities again makes the Jewish movement a factor in national politics in the post-Soviet countries, although in a less evident way.

To summarize, the political institutionalization of the Jewish movement in the CIS has an unfinished and controversial character. Whether local Jewish leaders will be able to find adequate forms for resolving these contradictions will be made clear in the future.

*     *     *



1. Mark Tolts, “The Jewish Population of Russia, 1989-1995,” Jews in Eastern Europe, 1996, no. 3 (31):5-17; and Mark Kupovetsky, “Jews of the Former Soviet Union: Population and Geographical Dispersion,” Yehudei Brit Ha-moetsot Ba-maavar, no. 19 (4), 2000:132 (Hebrew). It should be noted that larger estimates also include the so-called “enlarged” Jewish population (i.e., non-Jewish family members). There are experts who believe that the “enlarged” Jewish population of the post-Soviet states is even larger, and estimate it at 2.4 million. See Betsy Gidwitz, Post-Soviet Jewry: Critical Issues (Jerusalem: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, 1999), pp. 3, 56, note 8. 
2. On post-Soviet Jewish identity, see Vladimir Chervyakov, Zvi Gitelman, and Vladimir Shapiro, “Religion and Ethnicity: Judaism in Ethnic Consciousness of Contemporary Russian Jews,” Ethnic and Racial Studies, vol. 20, no. 2 (April 1997); Zvi Gitelman, Vladimir Chervyakov, and Vladimir Shapiro, “Natsional’noye samosoznanie rossiiskih evreev. Materialy soziologicheskogo issledovaniya 1997-1998 gg.” [Ethnic Identity of Russian Jews. Records of the Sociological Research of 1997-1998], Diaspory (Moscow), no. 3, 2000:52-86; Vladimir Khanin, “Social Consciousness and the Problem of Jewish Identity of Ukrainian Jewry: The Case of Dniepr Region,” Contemporary Jewry, vol. 19 (1998); Rozalia Ryvkina, Evrei post-sovetskoi Rossii – kto oni? [Post-Soviet Russian Jews – What Are They?] (Moscow: UPSS, 1996). 
3. On the status and activities of “official” USSR structures of Jewish culture, see Velvel Chernin’s article in this volume and his “Institutionalized Jewish Culture from the 1960s to the mid-1980s,” in Yaacov Ro’i, ed., Jews and Jewish Life in Russia and the Soviet Union (London: Frank Cass, 1995), pp. 226-237. 
4. See Zvi Gitelman, Jewish Nationality and Soviet Politics: The Jewish Sections of the CPSU, 1917-1930 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1972). 
5. The Soviet Public Anti-Zionist Committee was created by Decree of the Secretariat of the CPSU Central Committee, 29 March 1983, and was adopted according to the suggestion of the Propaganda Department of the Central Committee of the CPSU and the USSR KGB. The text of the decree is contained in the Moscow Center for Preservation of Contemporary Documentation – TsKhSD, Fond [fund] 89, Opis [inventory] 11, Delo [file] 175, Listy [pages] 1-3. See also William Korey, “Soviet Public Anti-Zionist Committee: An Analysis,” in Robert Freedman, ed., Soviet Jewry in the 1980s (Durham: Duke University Press, 1989), pp. 26-50. 
6. One example was the activity and destiny of the Soviet Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee. See Yehoshua Gilboa, The Black Years of Soviet Jewry (Boston: Little Brown, 1972). 
7. On attempts to use the traditional Jewish religious communities as an umbrella for Jewish national activities between the 1950s and the 1990s, see Vladimir Khanin, “Judaism and the Organized Jewish Movement in the USSR/CIS after World War II: The Ukrainian Case,” Jewish Political Studies Review, vol. 11, nos. 1-2 (Spring 1999):75-100. 
8. This understanding was reached by the author in the course of personal interviews with former activists of the Jewish underground movement: Michail Chlenov, Yosef Zissels, Alexander Feldman, Ze’ev Dashevsky, Ze’ev Geizel, Barukh Podolsky, Leonid Fulmakht, and Eliyahu Esses (Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Kiev, and Moscow, 1993-2001). 
9. Author’s interview with first Chairman of the Ihud Ha-morim, Ze’ev Geyzel, Alon Shvut, November 2000. 
10. See Informatsionnyi bulleten’ po voprosam repatriatsii i evreiskoi kul’tury (IBREK), Moscow, 1988, no. 20. See also Eugene Satanovsky’s article in this volume. 
11. See Shofar (Chernovtsy), no 1 (1990):7-8.
12. On the Societies of Jewish Culture and their political dependency see Vladimir Khanin, “perestroika and Jewish Cultural Associations in Ukraine, 1987-1991,”Jews in Eastern Europe, (Jerusalem), no. 2 (42) (Fall 2000):5-24. 
13. Mordechai Altshuler, “Soviet Jewry – A Community in Turmoil,” in Robert S. Wistrich, ed., Terms of Survival – The Jewish World Since 1945 (London: Routlege, 1995), p. 199. 
14. For a description of Nativ activities on behalf of Soviet Jews in the 1950s through the early 1980s, see Nehemia Levanon, Hakod – “Nativ” (Code Name – “Nativ”) (Tel Aviv, 1995). 
15. For details about the current situation regarding the activities of these organizations in the CIS, see Gidwitz, Post-Soviet Jewry, pp. 27-52. 
16. See materials of the conference in Vestnik Evreiskoi Kul’tury (VEK) , (Riga), no. 2 (1989):1-5; IBREK, no. 9 (32) (1989):58-62. 
17. See Igor Kuperberg, “Obshchina – eto uzhe ser’ozno” [Community – Already Something Serious], Hadashot, no. 8 (36) (August 1992):2; Igor Kuperberg, “V Kieve, taki da, ne khvataet evreiskoi obshchiny” [Kiev Really Needs a Jewish Community], Hadashot, no. 2 (6) (1992):3. See also “Ky’ivs’ka mis’ka yevreis’ka hromada. Richnyi zvit, 1998” (Kiev: Municipal Jewish Community. Annual Report, 1998), p. 10. 
18. Mark Kontliarkii, “Nakanune XXI veka evrei SNG reshili ob”edinit’sia” [On the Eve of the 21st Century Jews of the CIS Decided to Unite Themselves], Vesti, Tel Aviv, 12 December 1999. 
19. David Lane, “Ruling Class and Political Elites: Paradigms of Socialist Societies,” in David Lane, ed., Elites and Political Power in the USSR (Aldershot, UK: Edward Elgar Pub. Ltd., 1988), p. 4. 
20. Records of interview with Arkady Shmist, a founder of the Jewish Society of Dnyepropetrovsk “Tarbut Va-rakhamim,” 16 May 1999, “JCPA Materials on Revival of Organized Jewish Life in Ukraine,” file 12, doc. 11, p. 4-6. 
21. Eliyahu Esses, “Jewish Religious Communities.” Paper presented at the Second International Conference on Personal Absorption of Jewish Immigrants (Repatriates) from the Former USSR, Herzliya, November 1999. 
22. Yosef Zissels, “Jewish Community of Ukraine: The Situation and Prospects.” Paper presented at the Fifth International Conference of Jewish Studies, Kiev, September 1997, p. 2. 
23. The Ukrainian case of the communal political role of Jewish religious leaders was discussed by the author of this article in Vladimir Khanin, “A Rabbinical Revolution? Religion, Power and Politics in the Contemporary Ukrainian Jewish Movement,” Jewish Political Studies Review, vol. 10, nos. 1-2 (1998). See also Betsy Gidwitz, “Jewish Life in Ukraine at the Dawn of the Twenty-First Century,” Part 2, Jerusalem Letter, no. 452 (15 April 2001), pp. 1-12. 
24. Mezhdunarodnaya evreiskaya gazeta, Moscow, no. 2 (161) (January 1996). 
25. Israel Mey Ami, “Israel Relations with Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan,” The Times of Central Asia, vol. 1, no. 43, 30 December 1999. 
26. For details see Vladimir Khanin, “Money and Politics: Notes on the Revival of Jewish Communities in Post-Communist Ukraine,” Shvut: Studies in Russian and East European Jewish History and Culture (Tel-Aviv) 25 September 2000, pp. 205-220. 
27. See Russian Jewish Congress, Annual Report, 1996 (Moscow, 1997), pp. 2-3. 
28. Davar (Alma-Ata), no. 12 (18) (December 2000). 
29. See Materialy II Z”izdu Vseukra”ns’koho Evreis’koho Konhresu (Materials of the Second Congress of the All-Ukrainian Jewish Congress), Kiev, 17-18 December, 1997, p. 3. 
30. See Vladimir Khanin, “Money and Politics.” 
31. See “Rabbi Ya’akov Dov Bleich: Rabinovich Doesn’t Represent Us,” Kiev Post, 7 August 1998. 
32. Author’s personal interview with Rabbi Ya’akov Dov Bleich, Zaporozhye-Kiev, September 1995. 
33. Betsy Gidwitz, “Jewish Life in Ukraine at the Dawn of the Twenty-First Century,” Part 1, Jerusalem Letter, no. 451 (1 April 2001), p. 4. 
34. Personal interview, Kiev, September 1994. 
35. These estimates were made by various experts including heads of Jewish educational institutions in Ukraine, local Jewish Agency representatives, as well as activists in Jewish communities, organizations, and other groups representing Jewish leadership in a number of cities in the CIS (a series of personal interviews, 1993-2001). 
36. See Nikolay Churilov, Nekotorye problemy evreev v Ukraine: sostoyanie i perspectivy [Some Problems of Jews in Ukraine: Situation and Prospects] (unpublished paper, n.d.), p. 2. 
37. Robert Brymm, Jews of Moscow, Kiev and Minsk: Identity, Anti-Semitism, Emigration (New York: New York University Press, 1994), p. 27. 
38. Chervyakov, Gitelman, and Shapiro, “Religion and Ethnicity,” p. 286. The author is grateful to Professor Vladimir Shapiro for providing the results of their study of 1997-1998. 
39. Gidwitz, Post-Soviet Jewry, pp. 15-16. 
40. Yosef Zissels, “Evreiskie organizatsii i NRU” [Jewish Organizations and the Peoples Rukh of Ukraine], Informatsionnyi bulleten’ po voprosam repatriatsii i evreiskoi kul’tury, no. 10 (33) (June 1989):39-45. See also Alexandr Burakovskii, “Istoriya rady natsional’nostei Narodnoho rukhu Ukra’iny. Politolohichnyi analiz” (The History of the Council of Nationalities of the Peoples Rukh f Ukraine). Ph.D. Thesis, 1999. 
41. See Vladimir Khanin, “The Ukrainian Exodus,” in W.R.E.: Oxford Journal of Opinion and International Affairs (December 1991). 
42. A. Wittkowsky, nf Jahre ohne Plan. Die Ukraine 1991-1996. [Five-Year Plan Without a Plan] (Hamburg: LIT, 1998) (In Russian translation: Pyatiletka bez plana. Ukraina: 1991-1996 (Kiev: Sfera, 1998). 
43. See Eli Wohlgelernter, “Antisemitism Mars Kiev Mayoral Election,” Jerusalem Post, 28 May 1999; Betsy Gidwitz, “Report on Jewish Life in Moscow,” October 12-24, 1999, p. 24. 
44. Artur Chilingarov was quoted in Gidwitz, “Report on Jewish Life in Moscow,” pp. 3-4. 
45. Lev Krichevsky, “Russian Jewish Elites and Anti-Semtism,” The American Jewish Committee: International Perspectives, no. 43 (January 1999):3-4. 
46. The list included people who supposedly “control or influence at least one parliamentary caucus, group, political party, public organization, nationwide television or radio channel, or nationwide newspaper.” The top five on the list are Ihor Bakay, Aleksander Volkov, Viktor Pinchuk, Vadim Rabinovich and Grigory Syrkis. Jan Maksymiuk, “Who is Pulling the Strings?,” Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report (RFE/RL), vol. 1, no. 2, 1 June 1999. 
47. Sovetskaya Rossiya, 15 January 1998. 
48. Author’s interview with Chairman of the Russian Va’ad Professor Michail Chlenov, Chairman of the Council of Directors of the Russian Jewish Congress Dr. Evgeni Satanovsky, and the leader of the Reform Judaism movement in Russia, Zinovii Kogan, February 2001. 
49. Both were quoted in Lev Gorodetsky, “Kremlin Stirs Up Jewish Anger by Naming Lubavitch Rabbi to Panel,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA), 25 March 2001. 
50. In the RJC, Goussinsky was replaced by Leonid Nevzlin, a top manager of the YUKOS oil company, which was headed by another leading Jewish tycoon, Mikhail Khodorkovsky. See Lev Gorodetsky, “Goussinsky Resignation Seen as Surrender to Kremlin,” Jerusalem Post, 23 March 2001. 
51. Lev Krichevsky, “Ukraine’s Jews Confront Schism as Two Umbrella Groups Compete,” JTA, 18 April 1999.
52. Katya Gorchinskaya, “Rabinovich Rallies his Supporters,” Kiev Post, 8 April 1999.