Russian-speaking lawmakers form group


Jewish Russian-speaking legislators formed a parliamentary club.

More than 20 lawmakers from Israel, the United States, Ukraine and Russia met March 6-7 in Kiev to establish the body, under the auspices of the World Congress of Russian Jewry, to represent at parliament level Russian-Jewish interests in the former Soviet Union and abroad.

They discussed legislative issues, as well as problems facing Russian-speaking Jews.

Club organizers say the aim is to facilitate the dialogue and understanding among countries with large populations of Russian-speaking Jews.

During a meeting with Yuriy Kostenko, Ukraine’s first deputy minister of foreign affairs, the legislators talked about optimizing visa rules between Israel and Ukraine and pension benefits for Jewish citizens born in Ukraine, as well as Ukrainian participation in the celebration of the 60th anniversary of Israel’s statehood.

New York state Assembly member Alec Brook-Krasny, who has secured funding for lifesaving health screenings for many Russian Americans, spoke about compensating Israeli citizens and Americans who participated in relief and rescue operation in the aftermath of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant blast and those who suffered after the tragedy. Brook-Krasny helped secure $540,000 in the New York state budget for Chernobyl relief.

The forum was held at the initiative of the president of the World Congress of Russian Jewry, Boris Shpiegel, who serves in the Council of Federation, the upper house of the Russian Parliament.

Eight Israeli Knesset members, including deputy chairman Yuli Edelstein, and Amnon Kohen, attended the meeting.

The congress on Friday issued a statement condemning the terrorist attack on the Mercaz Harav yeshiva in Jerusalem.

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