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Activists Press for Charges Against Russian Far-right Leader

An extremist Russian political party has disavowed anti-Semitic statements by one of its leaders — but Jewish activists are unimpressed.

Following the Russian authorities’ threat of a ban on its registration as a political party, the leaders of the National Great Power Party, known as NDPR, said this week on their Web site that views expressed by Boris Mironov, one of the party’s co-chairs, were not cleared with the group’s leadership and are not found in the party’s official documents.

In an interview with the Moscow News weekly last month, Mironov called for restrictions to be imposed on Russian minorities, including stripping some of these minorities, including Jews, of voting rights — on the grounds that they are “genetically disloyal.”

Under Russian legislation on political parties, a party can have its registration annulled if it fails to disavow an extremist statement made by a member of its leadership.

Despite the disavowal, Jewish leaders are demanding close scrutiny of the party’s activities.

“This is demagogy. They issued this statement only because they were facing a ban,” Alexander Brod, director of the Moscow bureau for the Union of Councils for Jews in the Former Soviet Union, told JTA.

Brod said the party has widely used Mironov’s anti-Semitic statements in its own newspaper, the Russian Front, and in the leaflets distributed by the NDPR’s regional branches.

“Mironov pursues his own political and public goals, and anti-Semitism is a part and parcel of his agenda,” Brod added.

The Union of Councils’ Moscow bureau recently sent a letter to the Justice Ministry and the Prosecutor General’s Office demanding that charges of inciting ethnic, religious and racial strife — a criminal offense in Russia — are pressed against Mironov.

Mironov has a long history of anti-Semitic statements. A self-described fascist, he chaired the State Committee on the Press early in Boris Yeltsin’s first presidential term, but was fired in 1994 after making controversial statements.

The demand for charges came after Mironov published a new anti-Semitic pamphlet titled “The Jewish Yoke.”

The brochure, which has a print run of 5,000 copies, is being distributed by local branches of NDPR, according to the Union of Councils.

The NDPR claims to have 11,000 members and offices in some 70 of Russia’s 89 regions.

The party, formed a year ago, received widespread publicity after the Justice Ministry registered it last fall, giving the group the green light to run for the State Duma in the late 2003 election.

The decision to register NDPR generated protests from some Jewish leaders and human rights groups.

But the Justice Ministry defended its decision, saying it had no legal reason to deny registration to the party — even though it is headed by some “odious personalities.”

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