(JTA) — A member of Russia’s Human Rights Council slammed a news website that said that nearly a quarter of Russia’s top billionaires are Jews.
Nikolai Svanidze of the council, a Kremlin-affiliated body with no executive powers, made the condemnation last week against Lenta.ru, which analyzed according to faith and ethnicity the Forbes list for 2014 of people the magazine identified as Russia’s wealthiest.
The Lenta.ru study claimed that 48 of the 200 richest Russians were Jews who own a total capital of $122.3 billion. Ukrainians also owned an outsized share of Russia’s private capital, the publication claimed.
“It’s a Nazi and racist approach,” Svanidze was quoted as saying by the Slon.ru news site.
But Yuri Kanner, president of the Russian Jewish Congress, defended the decision to publish the study.
“If you cannot compare the proportion of representatives of various nationalities in the general ethnic composition of the country, it is impossible to understand who is really successful and who is not,” he told the currsorinfo.co.il news website on Oct. 29.
Kanner said, however, that he doubted the authenticity of the research.
“The proportion of Jews in the population of the Russian Federation is calculated incorrectly,” he said. “Besides, to compare the Jewish population, which is mainly concentrated in the major cities and has a university degree, with a total mass of Russian citizens, it is not accurate.”
Among the people listed in the Lenta study as Jewish were Mikhail Fridman ($17.6 billion); Viktor Vekselberg ($17.2 billion) and Leonid Michelson.
They did not identify themselves to Lenta as Jewish, the news website said.