Russian city needn’t say its Holocaust victims were Jews, court rules

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(JTA) — A Russian civil court reportedly has rejected a petition that sought official recognition of the Jewish identity of the victims of a major Holocaust atrocity near Rostov-on-Don.

The ruling, according to the Russian news site 161.ru, concerned a controversial memorial plaque at the city’s Zmievskaya Balka mass grave that mentions the “mass killing by the fascists of captured Soviet citizens.” The court’s decision has not yet gone into effect, the report said. The minutes of the court’s ruling are expected to be released in the coming days, according to the report.

The Russian Jewish Congress petitioned the court last year after city officials placed the plaque after removing a previous plaque from 2004 that did mention the Holocaust.

The majority of the approximately 27,000 people whom German soldiers executed at Zmievskaya Balka in 1942 were Jewish, according to the Russian Jewish Congress.

Matvey Chlenov, the RJC’s deputy executive director, told JTA that city officials wrote a memo warning that mentioning the Holocaust could lead to “ethnic unrest.”

Southern Russia is home to many immigrants from the Caucasus region. Nationalist Russians staged riots there in 2010.

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