MOSCOW (Jul. 14)
The young man who stabbed a prominent Moscow Jewish leader on Tuesday said he wanted to combat what he calls the “evil” of Judaism.
Nikita Krivchun, a 20-year-old Moscow student, denied that he is a member of a neo-Nazi group and insists that he did not have any help in planning his attack, which culminated in the attack on Leopold Kaimovsky in the Choral Synagogue.
Kaimovsky, the 52-year-old business manager of Moscow’s Jewish Arts Center was wounded in the face, stomach and leg. On Wednesday, he was in critical condition at a Moscow hospital.
The knifing is the latest proof that the Russian government must do more to crack down on anti-Semitism, the Russian Jewish Congress said.
“Today, knives are being used, tomorrow smoke will be seen rising from the crematoria,” the group said in a letter to government officials.
The letter came as an unidentified individual on Wednesday called the Choral Synagogue to say that a Russian neo-Nazi leader had ordered his organization to set up “actions” near several Moscow synagogues Thursday night.
Russia’s chief rabbi, Adolf Shayevich, told JTA that the caller said the order came from Alexander Barkashov, leader of Russian National Unity, Russia’s largest and best-organized neo-Nazi group.
In an interview with a television station, Krivchun, who is being held at a Moscow police station, said the attack was political. He added that he had randomly selected Kaimovsky to be his victim.
“My slogan is to fight with evil which is Judaism,” Krivchun said in the interview.
A spokesman for the Moscow police said Krivchun most likely will be charged with intentionally inflicting a serious injury. Under this charge, he may face up to 10 years in prison.
But Jewish leaders are insisting that the assailant be charged with attempted murder on religious and racial grounds, a more serious crime under Russian law.
The Moscow Prosecutor’s Office said Wednesday that it is supervising the investigation, but while Russian Jewish leaders and most major media outlets have strongly reacted to the crime, most Russian and Moscow authorities have not yet commented on the incident.
The patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, Alexy II, expressed his indignation over the incident to the Russian Jewish community.
Police promised to tighten up security measures at all Moscow synagogues that are currently being guarded by private security agencies.
Authorities made similar vows following previous incidents, including two bomb blasts that occurred near two Moscow synagogues May 1, but these promises have not been fulfilled.