MOSCOW (Oct. 9)
A Communist lawmaker who recently uttered several anti- Semitic comments appears to be in hot water.
Russian state prosecutors said they are considering bringing criminal charges against Gen. Albert Makashov, a member of the Russian Parliament’s lower house, according to the newspaper Izvestia. And leaders of the Russian Communist Party promised to expel Makashov, a hard-line member of the Russian Parliament’s lower house.
Makashov made his first controversial comment in early October, when he said in a television interview that “it is time to expel all yids out of Russia.”
At recent mass rallies in Moscow and the Central Russian town of Samara, Makashov said Jews are to blame for the current economic crisis in Russia and that if he had to die he would take along a “dozen yids.”
He also said that Yeltsin should be “turned to soap.”
Several Jewish and liberal lawmakers protested Makashov’s anti-Semitic remarks, and Russian Justice Minister Pavel Krasheninnikov accused Makashov and three other participants in the Communist-sponsored rallies of “inciting ethnic hatred and calling for a forceful change of the constitutional regime.”
On Tuesday, his ministry officially demanded that the Prosecutor’s Office launch a criminal investigation.
Some observers called this a landmark move because authorities generally do not react to similar verbal attacks.
More surprising was the unambiguous stand the Communist leaders took regarding Makashov. In the past, some prominent Communists, including party leader Gennady Zyuganov, have made thinly veiled racist and anti-Semitic statements.
Last month, however, Zyuganov was the only top politician in Russia besides President Yeltsin to extend holiday greetings to the Jewish community.
In his letter read during Rosh Hashanah services at the Moscow Choral Synagogue, Zyuganov condemned anti-Semitism in Russia for the first time.
Some analysts said the shift in the Communist leader’s attitude toward anti- Semitism is a sign that Zyuganov is trying to change his image with an eye toward running for president in the next elections, which are scheduled for 2000.