Neo-nazi Activists Suspected After Belarus Shul is Vandalized

Vandals have attacked a synagogue in Minsk, according to Jewish leaders in the capital of the former Soviet republic of Belarus.

In the attack, which occurred on April 12 and coincided with the Orthodox Christian Easter, the arsonists set fire to the entrance of the Dauman Street Synagogue and the slogan “Bash the Yids, Save Russia” was spray-painted on the synagogue’s wall. No one was injured in the incident, but the synagogue’s door was destroyed.

Yuri Dorn, a Jewish leader in Minsk, said teen-agers from the neo-Nazi Russian National Unity group may have been responsible for the attack.

Yakov Basin, a long-time Jewish activist and the director of the Minsk-based Belarus-American Bureau on Human Rights, which is affiliated with the Union of Councils for Soviet Jews, said the incident was just another sign of rising anti-Semitism in this former Soviet republic.

According to Basin, Russian National Unity supporters have recently been distributing anti-Semitic materials throughout Minsk.

Earlier this year, a group of RNU supporters severely beat three members of a leading human rights group in Belarus.

In a separate development, authorities in the Russian town of Borovichi banned neo-Nazi activities, granted a public space to the local Jewish community and initiated a seminar to counter anti-Semitic and hate propaganda among the town’s youth.

The moves followed an international campaign launched by U.S. Jewish groups after the tiny Jewish community of 200 in Borovichi, a town of 90,000 people about 300 miles northwest of Moscow, reported a dramatic increase in the activities of the neo-Nazi Russian National Unity movement.

Last fall, hundreds of stickers saying “Jews Are Rubbish” and showing a man throwing a Star of David into a garbage can appeared in Borovichi.

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