MOSCOW, Jan. 5 (JTA) — Since large numbers of Jews were absorbed into the Russian Empire more than 200 years ago, Russian Jews have struggled to avoid the scrutiny of authorities. Now they’re asking Russian officials for increased surveillance. In response to a request from the Russian Jewish Congress, which is concerned about the rise in anti-Semitism since the country’s economy collapsed last year, Russian police will provide special security measures for Jewish institutions in the Moscow area. Beginning this month, as a result of an order by Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, Jewish institutions in Moscow will be patrolled around the clock by a special police task force. They include all four functioning synagogues in the Russian capital, Jewish schools, Moscow’s Jewish theater and the office of a Jewish weekly newspaper. According to Luzhkov’s office, the mobile police units will also provide security measures for several cemeteries in the Moscow area that have Jewish sections. Luzhkov has personally experienced the rise in extremist behavior that has hit Russia in the past six months. In December, he was threatened by the leader of the Russian National Unity after he banned a meeting of the group, the country’s largest ultranationalist organization, scheduled to take place in the Russian capital.
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