Staunton, April 16 – Berl Lazar, the chief rabbi of Russia, has appealed to Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev as head of the ruling United Russia party to take action against a United Russia candidate in Chelyabinsk for expressing openly anti-Semitic ideas during a campaign speech.
“The Jewish community of Russia is shocked by the anti-Semitic speech of Vladislav Vikhoryev, a participant in the United Russia primaries in Chelyabinsk oblast, who spoke about ‘a conspiracy of the Jews against the Russian people” (medialeaks.ru/1504dalex_antsemitism and echo.msk.ru/blog/echomsk/1748504-echo/).
But the chief rabbi said he and his fellow Jews were even more concerned that party’s organizers let him off with a warning and “retained him among those seeking a place in the electoral list” of United Russia.
Vikhoryev made his remarks last Sunday, April 10. They have since been posted on Youtube and include his claims that “the main problem and threat to the security of Russia are the Jews,” that the Jews carried out a coup under Boris Yeltsin, and that since then, “the Jews have carried out the planned destruction of Russian culture, the state and the financial system.”
Other Jewish leaders have argued that Vikhoryev’s remarks should be examined not just by the United Russia authorities but by Russia’s law enforcement agencies. Among those making that argument is Yury Kanner, president of the Russian Jewish Congress (lenta.ru/news/2016/04/13/antisemit/).
This case puts United Russia and the Kremlin in a difficult position. If it fails to take strong action against Vikhoryev, it will show itself to be indifferent to anti-Semitism, all of Vladimir Putin’s statements about Russia as a place to which Jews from Europe should consider moving notwithstanding.
But if it removes Vikhoryev from its electoral list and charges him under Russian law, as it certainly could, then both the Kremlin and United Russia will lose support from Russian nationalists, many of whom are as anti-Semitic as the United Russia politician. And that is something the center may not want to do in advance of upcoming Duma elections.