MOSCOW (May. 9)
Anti-Semitic leaflets aimed against the mayor of Moscow are being distributed in two Russian cities.
The leaflets reproduce a photo of Yuri Luzhkov wearing a yarmulka at a Jewish event last year. The text that goes along with the picture falsely claims that Luzhkov is Jewish.
Luzhkov is widely seen as a frontrunner in Russia’s presidential elections, which are slated for June 2000.
The leaflets have been distributed in at least two locations, according to media reports. Earlier this year, some Moscow residents found them stuffed in their mailboxes. This month, residents of Kirov, located 500 miles east of Moscow, found similar leaflets in their mail.
The leaflets use a photo of Luzhkov and Russian Jewish Congress President Vladimir Goussinsky — both sporting skullcaps — taken last September at the opening of the Holocaust Memorial Synagogue inside Moscow’s World War II memorial park. The picture taken at the ceremony, also attended by Russian President Boris Yeltsin, was originally published in a Moscow daily.
Luzhkov, who is known to be a close friend of Goussinsky, has won a reputation among Russian Jews for his support of the Jewish community. The leaflets cite several quotes from Luzhkov speaking favorably about Jews.
The leaflets also assert that Moscow mayor’s “original” last name is Katz, adding in large print, “And this man wants to become president of Russia!”
Over the past decade, various anti-Semitic and anti-Communist groups have tried to ascribe Jewish roots to several post-Soviet leaders and even to such Soviet figures as Leonid Brezhnev.
The leaflet generated front-page reports in the Moscow press.
Izvestia, a leading daily, described the use of ethnicity as an “alarming feature of the national election campaign.”
There are no Jews among likely contenders for the Kremlin seat.
“In the absence of real Jews in the race, you can fight against fake Jewish candidates,” says Moscow Chief Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt.
“The trend has become obvious in the [Russian] political landscape.”
In a separate development, dozens of anti-Semitic stickers were posted last week in several Moscow subway stations. The stickers show the blue Star of David crossed out with red.
Also, a few dozen men clad in military-style black uniforms and bearing anti- Semitic banners walked in downtown Moscow on Sunday as part of a counterdemonstration to a rally that marked the Soviet Union’s defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II.