MOSCOW (Oct. 23)
A court in the former Soviet republic of Georgia has given a one-year jail sentence to the author of an anti-Semitic article that appeared in a Georgian newspaper in August.
Givi Alaznispireli, editor and publisher of Noah, an independent newspaper published in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi, this week was sentenced for inciting racial and ethnic hatred.
The article, titled “Watch Out, Jews Ahead,” said Jews were responsible for the high level of unemployment and other economic ills besetting the country after Georgia declared its independence in 1991 from Soviet rule.
The article referred to Jews as “vampires” who have been pumping the natural and intellectual wealth out of Georgia.
At the time of its publication, the article elicited a swift condemnation from Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze, who described it as full of “fascism and bigotry.”
The article also prompted Georgian officials and intellectuals to speak out against the anti-Semitic publication.
Georgia, which is located in the Caucasus Mountains, is known as a country with a relatively low level of anti-Semitism.
During the Soviet era, Jews in Georgia enjoyed religious freedom to a greater extent than in any other republic of the Soviet Union.
In 1989, about 100,000 Jews lived in Georgia. The republic has a general population of some 5.7 million. But many of the country’s Jews emigrated during a civil war that broke out after Georgia declared its independence in 1991.
During Alaznispireli’s trial, the government daily newspaper Republic of Georgia published a series of articles describing the traditionally friendly relations between Jews and Georgians, Jemal Adjiashvili, the leader of 13,000 Georgia’s Jews, said in a telephone interview.
Adjiashvili, the only Jewish member of the 226-seat Georgian Parliament, said the editors of another Georgian tabloid would be put on trial by the end of the year.
The tabloid has recently published several articles describing what it alleged was a series of Jewish ritual murders.