MOSCOW, July 14 (JTA) — The immigration of Russian Jews to Israel is reaching its highest levels since the mass exodus of the late 1980s and early 1990s, according to the Jewish Agency for Israel. “If the trend continues, the number of Russian Jews [making aliyah] might reach 30,000” this year, which would be the highest total since 1992, Jewish Agency Chairman Sallai Meridor said Wednesday. Immigration from Russia is being fueled by the country’s economic crisis and fears of rising anti-Semitism, agency officials said. During the first six months of 1999, 12,188 Russian Jews came to Israel, a 128 percent increase over the same period last year. Russian Jewish emigres represented nearly half of the 25,516 Jews who made aliyah from across the former Soviet Union during this time. In previous years, Jewish emigres from Russia accounted for only some 30 percent of the total number of olim from the former Soviet Union. A total of 60,000 emigres from the former Soviet states are expected to make aliyah during 1999. Last year the total was 46,000. Some 800,000 Jews from the former Soviet Union have made aliyah since 1989, when Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev approved more liberal emigration policies.
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