Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Extremist Rally Fuels Desire to Ban Political Party in Russia

January 29, 2003
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Russian Jewish leaders say a demonstration by a far-right political party outside the offices of a Jewish organization provides more evidence to ban the party.

The demonstration is “proof that we are moving in the right direction,” said Valery Engel, executive director of the World Congress of Russian Jewry, a group that unites Russian Jewish organizations in several countries.

He said his group would send some of the photos taken during the National Great Power Party demonstration to the country’s chief prosecutor because the content of the posters held at the rally insulted the Jewish community.

“Our fight toward disbanding the party will be continued,” Engel told JTA.

On Sunday, approximately 75 supporters of the party, known as NDPR, picketed the Moscow office of the World Congress.

Participants in the demonstration, which lasted about an hour, carried anti-Semitic posters and distributed anti-Semitic literature — including the notorious forgery, “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” — to passers-by.

One of the party’s co-chairs, Stanislav Terekhov, told reporters that NDPR backers protested because the party “doesn’t like it when people who don’t have Russian citizenship or who have dual citizenship try to teach Russians how to live.”

Last week, the NDPR filed a defamation suit against the World Congress and one of Russia’s two chief rabbis, Rabbi Berel Lazar, following a Jewish appeal to Russian President Vladimir Putin and the country’s prosecutor general, Vladimir Ustinov, that characterized the NDPR as anti-Semitic and extremist.

The World Congress was among the Jewish and human rights groups that protested the Justice Ministry’s decision last year to register the NDPR as a political party. The group’s leaders have a history of making anti-Semitic statements.

Earlier this month, Russian authorities threatened to disband the party after another NDPR co-chair, Boris Mironov, called for restrictions to be imposed on Russian minorities, including stripping Jews of voting rights. Facing a possible ban, the party disavowed these statements, saying they were not cleared with the group’s leadership.

The NDPR also appealed a Ministry of Justice warning issued to the party for inciting ethnic hatred. A Moscow court is slated to hear the case in late February.

A World Congress news release said the hearing would show “how decisive the state’s resistance is” to the NDPR.

Jewish groups have previously criticized the Justice Ministry for not following up on widespread accusations that the party is anti-Semitic.

Recommended from JTA