(JTA) — A St. Petersburg city councilman from Russia’s ruling party made statements suggesting that Jews killed Jesus.
Vitaly Milonov made the statements last month during a meeting of the St. Petersburg City Council, where he serves as a lawmaker for President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party, the svodka.net news website reported this week.
“They vilify any saint, it is in their tradition of 2,000 years, beginning with the appeals to crucify the Savior, ending with accusations of anti-Semitism against St. John of Kronstadt,” Milonov said during a March 19 speech before the city’s legislative council, according to the report.
Milonov was advocating a bill that proposes to declare June 14 a municipal holiday in honor of John of Kronstadt, a 19th century leader of the Orthodox Russian Church. His legacy remains controversial because of his membership in the Black Hundred, an ultranationalist and declaredly anti-Semitic movement that supported pogroms against Jews.
But Milonov said such criticism was based on “complete lies, a modern neo-liberal fable with a sulfuric, deep history of Satanism.”
The Chabad-affiliated Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia and the Russian Jewish Congress condemned Milonov’s remarks.
“In his words, the Russian Jewish community sees a common set of anti-Semitic stereotypes, starting with the traditional accusations of the crucifixion of Christ and ending with a veiled reference to modern Russian Jewry as ‘neo-liberal’ politicians,” the federation wrote in a statement published on its website.
Occurring on the heels of an anti-Semitic remark made on Russian state television, in which a television anchorwoman asserted that the Jews brought the Holocaust on themselves, the affair comes at a sensitive time for Putin’s administration, which has cited perceived anti-Semitism among Ukrainian revolutionaries as a justification for Russia’s invasion and annexation of the Crimean Peninsula last month.
Ukraine saw a spate of anti-Semitic attacks since the eruption of revolution in November against the government of former president Vicktor Yanukovych over his perceived pro-Russian policies. He was ousted from power in February by a provisional government ahead of an election slated for May.