WASHINGTON (May. 27)
The United States and Russia have both denounced an anti-Semitic article that appeared in the Russian newspaper Pravda earlier this month.
The May 5 article included allegations that Jews engage in ritual murders, a trumped-up charge that led to pogroms in czarist Russia.
The article also linked the murders of three Russian Orthodox priests to the longstanding efforts by American members of the Chabad Lubavitch movement to gain the release of their religious texts held at the Lenin Library in Moscow.
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher, briefing reporters last week, called the article “virulently anti-Semitic.”
He said the United States had spoken to the Russians about the article on May 6 and 7, and that the United States “firmly supported the efforts of the Lubavitch community to regain custody of those books.”
Boucher pointed out that while Pravda is no longer an official government publication, it has wide circulation, and “we are therefore concerned that articles such as this threaten the spirit of religious tolerance in Russia.”
Both the U.S. government and the National Conference on Soviet Jewry were encouraged that the Russian Foreign Ministry spoke out May 14 against the Pravda article.
Boucher quoted the Russian statement as saying the article was “destructive in its manner, and facilitates the inflammation of nationalist and religious dissension.”
The statement also said the Russian government “takes all the necessary measures for the effective guarantee of the rights of Russian citizens, regardless of their nationality or religion.”
Mark Levin, executive director of the National Conference, said Tuesday that the statement was a “positive step” on the part of the Russian government.
“This is a good example of how far they’ve come,” Levin said.
He said the Pravda article represented the problems associated with the combination of antigovernment nationalists and Communists in Russia.
“We keep talking about the former Communists and nationalists coming together,” Levin said. “This is one blatant example.”