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Russian Jewish senators resign amid double nationality scandal

(JTA) — Russia’s upper house has approved the resignation of a two Jewish lawmakers who stepped down last week amid accusations that one of them hid his Israeli citizenship.

Senator Vitaly Malkin, 60, handed in his resignation on Tuesday amid accusations that he has failed to give up his Israeli citizenship as Russian lawmakers are legally bound to do, according to the Moskovski Komsomoletz daily.

Senator Boris Shpigel, who is also the president of the World Congress of Russian Jewry, resigned because of his new role as the leader of an anti-Fascist organization in France.

The Federation Council voted to strip both men of their senatorial status on Wednesday. Malkin’s resignation came after claims appeared in media and blogs that Malkin, 60, has an Israeli passport under the name Avihur Ben Bar. Malkin said he gave up his citizenship in 2007 but has not presented any documents to support this, the Moskovski Komsomoletz wrote.

Shpigel, meanwhile, asked to step down after becoming president of World without Nazism, a nongovernmental organization dedicated to fighting xenophobia which is based in Strasbourg, France. Before leaving, Shpigel introduced a bill on combating xenophobia.

"The problem of Nazism in the world, especially in Europe, is very serious,” Shpigel wrote. ”I  intend to make every effort to counter manifestations of Nazism in the world and, in particular, in E.U. countries and the Baltic states."

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