Russia / 19-02-2015

2014 Antisemitism report

Source: eajc

A presentation of the report "Antisemitism in Russia and the CIS in 2014" was held in the press center of Moscow. The report was prepared by a team of experts for the Jewish community in Russia, which operates under the Euro- Asian Jewish Congress. The presentation was held within the framework of the program "We are the sons of Russia", operated by the Moscow branch of the Association of Russian journalists and the all-Russian Congress of ethnic journalists "World Culture".


Attended in the presentation of the report to the general public and to the media: the general secretary of the Euro- Asian Jewish Congress Professor Mikhail Tchlenov, an historian, a journalist, the expert team coordinator, Semyon Charny, the vice-chairman of the anti- Nazi center of Moscow Viktor Dashevsky, the president of the Russian section of the International Association for Human Rights Vladimir Nowicki, and the director of the press office of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia Andrei Glotzer.


The expert team summarized the findings of the 2014 monitoring of antisemitism in Russia and the CIS. The team also presented their conclusions regarding the expressions of antisemitism and the responses of the authorities and the public in the post-Soviet sphere to those expressions of antisemitism.


As noted in the report, the data for 2014 demonstrate an image which has reoccurred in recent years - CIS countries continue to remain "an island of calm" in view of the growing antisemitism in many countries of the world. The data collected show a significant gap between "old Europe" countries and the CIS countries in regard of antisemitic incidents (monitoring is based on international experience and includes information such as aggressive activity and vandalism). For example, while in the post-soviet sphere (excluding the Baltic states) 48 antisemitism incidents were recorded in 2014 (5 assaults, 43 vandalism and threats incidents),  in France alone 241 incidents of physical assaults against Jews were recorded in 2014, while in the UK 81 violence incidents and 81 vandalism incidents were recorded. However, experts believe that these figures should not be a cause to relax.


As noted, in a situation where none of the post Soviet states has a political antisemitism and Israel is no longer perceived by most of the population as an enemy state, the level of antisemitism in the CIS is affected by a combination of several factors:


- Russia retained the image of a "main enemy" which is the Caucasus and Muslim from Central Asian countries. 2014 was materially affected by the conflict with Ukraine which focused nearly all the attention of the nationalists. Ukrainian nationalists focused in opposition to Russia. In this manner, "prioritization changes" of radical nationalists in Russia and Ukraine hardly affected the attitude toward the Jews.

- Belorussia, Azerbaijan and Central Asian countries have a crucial importance to brutal activities of the special security forces that suppresses any opposition to the government, including, among other things, antisemitic activity.

- In contrast to Western countries where outbreaks of antisemitism are directly related to the conflict in the Middle East, this does not exists in CIS due to the lack of anti-Israeli tendencies in the leftist intelligentsia, while among Muslims in CIS it does not exists since  the Muslim solidarity in those states is not strong enough. This situation leaves antisemitic activity under the guise of "fighting Zionism" in a dormant state.

- A significant weight is also attributed to the fact that Jews are hard to identify. Not coincidently, the largest part of the violent incident took place against religious people, which are easier to identify as Jews.
 Government bodies in the post-Soviet sphere in general aim to stop any antisemitism.

The team of experts, however, indicates that the situation might get worse in view of the political and economic crisis that develops in the region. Here are just a number of factors that are a reason for concern:


- Despite the decline in the level of xenophobia reflected in polls in Russia, the number of declared antisemites remained at the previous level - 8%. Also mentioned was the following unpleasant fact - the presence of antisemitic teachers in prestigious institutions of higher education in Russia, who are in charge of the education of future leaders.

- Glorification of Ukrainian nationalists and turning then into heroes, including those who were using antisemitic rhetoric, may cause an increase in antisemitic trends, because it is impossible to separate between these people and their ideology. Similar glorification campaign takes place in Moldova and has already brought a Holocaust denier to be nominated for a prestigious award.

- In Kyrgyzstan, notorious MP began a smear campaign against Israel as the “Center of evil". Such actions may cause an increase in extremist and antisemitic tendencies among Muslims in the post-Soviet sphere, especially when taking into account the propaganda tendency of Russian-speaking Muslims news sources to feature Israel in a negative way only. One must also keep in mind the declaration of Russian Muslim leaders published in 2014, soaked with anti-Zionist and anti-Israeli spirit.

The expert team indicates that 2014 trends will be reflected also in the current year. As an example, one can cite, among other things, statements by leaders of the new republic of South East Ukraine, Igor Plotnicki and Aleksandr Zakharchenko, who spoke during a press conference, as well as the statement of the Russian Political Science expert, Sergei Kurginyan, who publicly denied the importance and uniqueness of the Holocaust.