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Zyuganov Defends Lawmaker Who Made Anti-semitic Remarks

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A deadline for taking action against the anti-Semitic comments of a Communist lawmaker has come and gone.

And when asked about the lawmaker’s comments, the leader of Russia’s Communist Party, Gennady Zyuganov, himself made several thinly veiled anti-Semitic remarks.

Russian state prosecutors said last month they were considering bringing criminal charges against Gen. Albert Makashov, a hard-line member of the Russian Parliament’s lower house.

The announcement came after Makashov told a television interviewer in early October that “it is time to expel all yids from Russia.”

At rallies held subsequently 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 a “dozen yids” with him.

But the deadline assigned by the prosecutor’s office for an investigation has now passed, and the office is refusing to comment on the state of the investigation.

Moreover, the uproar in the mainstream press and among some liberal lawmakers over Makashov’s statements has prompted an anti-Semitic backlash among prominent members of the Russian Communist Party.

Foremost among them is party leader Zyuganov, who had recently appeared to soften his image by offering Rosh Hashanah greetings to Russian Jews.

When asked at a news conference last week about his attitude toward Makashov’s anti-Semitism, Zyuganov said that while ethnic Russians make up 85 percent of the population, President Boris Yeltsin has “surrounded” himself over the years with Jewish Cabinet members.

And in an interview with the Moscow Jewish weekly Evreyskaya Gazeta, Zyuganov said Makashov’s remarks may well have been prompted by the fact that “there are quite a lot of people of Jewish nationality among the so-called democratic journalists” who “day and night are making a fool of the people.”

Zyuganov added that he favored the exposure of “scoundrels regardless of their ethnicity.”

Some of Zyuganov’s fellow Communists went even further in backing Makashov.

A group of 13 Communist lawmakers published a letter in which they called Makashov a “patriot” and accused Jewish bankers and politicians of humiliating ethnic Russians.

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