Russian Governor Steps Up Verbal Anti-semitic Attacks

The governor of a region in southern Russia is once again making waves with his anti-Semitic remarks.

The governor, Nikolai Kondratenko, was sued recently after calling the administration of the region’s largest mayor, Valery Samoilenko, a “Zionist nest” and a “Judeo-Masonic mafia.”

Kondratenko has repeatedly made anti-Semitic, racist and anti-Western statements. Indeed, say sources in Krasnodar, a largely agricultural region of 5.5 million people, he regularly peppers his speeches with attacks on Zionists and “Judeo-Masons,” whom he blames for all of Russia’s troubles.

People close to Kondratenko say he strongly believes in the existence of a Jewish conspiracy to rule the world.

Kondratenko, 58, who was elected governor of the Krasnodar region on the Black Sea in December 1996, heads an anti-reform alliance of ultranationalists, Communists and Cossacks.

The Kremlin has not responded to numerous requests from Russia’s Jewish community to investigate Kondratenko, who is a supporter of beleaguered President Boris Yeltsin.

Earlier this year, Kondratenko generated front-page articles in the Moscow press when he said the essence of Russian history is the battle against Jewish domination.

He blamed the Kremlin “controlled by Jews and Zionists” for the recent war in the southern Russian breakaway republic of Chechnya, for the destruction of the Communist Party, for attacks on the Russian Orthodox Church and for introducing homosexuality in Russia.

Krasnodar’s Jewish community, which numbers 3,000, prefers to keep a low profile, but the organized Russian Jewish community in Moscow has sent several letters urging President Boris Yeltsin to dismiss Kondratenko and to appeal to prosecutors to investigate Kondratenko under a law prohibiting the incitement of interethnic strife.

The Kremlin left these messages unanswered, but last May the Prosecutor’s Office dismissed the allegations of anti-Semitism brought against Kondratenko.

In a letter explaining the decision to Russian Jewish Congress President Vladimir Goussinsky, an aide to Russia’s prosecutor general said Kondratenko did not commit any crime since he didn’t target Jews, but Zionists, who subscribe to an ideology denounced in a 1975 United Nations resolution as a form of racism.

The letter failed to mention that the U.N. revoked the USSR-sponsored resolution in 1991.

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