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Bush asked to press Putin on anti-Semitism

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WASHINGTON, June 3 (JTA) — As President Bush prepares to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin later this month, advocates for Jews in the former Soviet Union are asking the White House to push Russia to take action against anti-Semitism.

Bush is to meet with Putin June 16 in Slovenia. Mark B. Levin, executive director of NCSJ: Advocates on behalf of Jews in Russia, Ukraine, the Baltic States and Eurasia, said his organization has been in touch with officials at the National Security Council and the State Department. They want President Bush to urge Putin to follow through on comments he has made condemning anti-Semitic activity.

“We have asked that the good words Putin has used addressing anti-Semitism be turned into actions,” Levin said. “Words were good, now we are looking for deeds.”

Levin said the Bush administration has been receptive to his organization’s concerns, and he has found the White House “willing to speak out publicly as well as privately.”

NCSJ also is concerned about the Putin administration’s increasing involvement in the Russian Jewish community. In its bi-annual report on anti-Semitism and other matters concerning the Jewish communities in the region, NCSJ notes that the Kremlin changed the chief rabbi on the state religious council, a move that was widely criticized by the Jewish community.

NCSJ’s report also notes continuing difficulties in restitution of Jewish communal property in Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova, and notes the efforts by Baltic countries to address Holocaust-era issues.

Levin said the report can be used as a “mini encyclopedia” to identify problems and opportunities in each country.

“As many of these countries go through political, economic and social difficulties, anti-Semitism is either right below the surface or bubbling onto the surface,” he said. “We hope by highlighting the positive developments as well as problems, we will be able to continue to see progress and address issues we need to address.”

The report is available online at www.ncsj.org. The online edition will be updated periodically.

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