Nevzlin’s statement against Museum violence smacks of irony


I just received this in my inbox. Not sure how to address it, but it registers high on my irony meter:

Statement by Leonid Nevzlin, Chairman, International Board of Governors, Nahum Goldmann Museum of the Jewish Diaspora, Tel Aviv, Israel
"Yesterday’s shooting at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is a terrible reminder that hatred and violence still exist and must be replaced by tolerance and peace. It is a tragedy that this act occurred at a place devoted to understanding and reconciliation. My hearts and prayers go out to all who were affected, particularly to the family of  Stephen Johns, who gave his life protecting innocent people who were at the Museum to learn and remember.  I will personally be reaching out to the family of Mr. Johns to offer assistance during this difficult time.  On behalf of the Board of Governors, staff and friends of the Nahum Goldmann Museum of the Jewish Diaspora in Tel Aviv, I express my sincere condolences to the American people."

That statement is all fine and good and the respectable thing for Nevzlin to say.

Here’s the thing. I have met Leonid Nevzlin, the Russian oligarch who is now an ex-pat living in Israel, several times. He actually came to the JTA offices in 2008 and sat with me for well over an hour talking about his philanthropy and his love for Israel and the Jewish people. And I have nothing but good things to say about those encounters — and I know you have to take everything from the Putin government with a grain of salt, especially when it comes to his political enemies. And I am not going to say that I know if the following is true — but…. in  August, Nevzlin was convicted in Moscow of murder.

From JTA:

A Russian court found Jewish oligarch and philanthropist Leonid Nevzlin guilty of murder.

The Moscow city court found Nevzlin, one of the top executives at the now defunct Yukos oil company, guilty of ordering several murders and attempted murders, including the killing of a local mayor. Nevzlin, who lives in Israel, was tried in absentia.

Nevzlin was a top aid to Yukos chief Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who has been in a Russian prison since 2003 serving a sentence for tax fraud. In 2006, Yukos’ security chief, Alexei Pichugin, was sentenced to 24 years in prison for carrying out murders.

Nevzlin, who fled to Israel and became an Israeli citizen after Khodorkovsky’s arrest, is accused of working with Pichugin to organize the murders. Nevzlin repeatedly has denied the charges, saying that they are part of an attempt by the Russian government to discredit Khodorkovsky.  

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