(JTA) — A senior Russian rabbi accused the country’s Communist Party of “vulgar and primitive anti-Semitism” after it demanded that Russian Jews condemn a Ukrainian Jewish oligarch.
Rabbi Boruch Gorin, a spokesman for and adviser to Rabbi Berel Lazar, a chief rabbi of Russia, on Wednesday said the request in a letter from two Communist lawmakers sent last week to Lazar and Adolf Shayevich, another chief rabbi of Russia, “reflected a primitive form of anti-Semitism which presumes all Jews belong to some sinister superstructure simply because they are Jewish.”
While the rabbis “have nothing to say to the communist lawmakers, we do expect other members of the Duma to speak out against this provocation,” Gorin said.
In the letter, the lawmakers urged Lazar and Shayevich to speak out against Igor Kolomoisky, a Ukrainian Jewish banker and regional governor who has poured millions of dollars into rearming the Ukrainian army against Russia.
“Russian Jews must distance themselves from Kolomoisky and make him understand that his crimes are denounced by his own people,” one of the lawmakers, Valery Rashkin, told the Izvestia newspaper after he and Sergey Obukhov published an open letter in the newspaper to Lazar and Shayevich. The lawmakers wrote that Kolomisky’s actions “contribute to ethnic and race hate and cause people to commit hate crimes not only in Ukraine, but also in Russia.”
The Russia-Ukraine border has been tense since the overthrow in February of Ukraine President Victor Yanukovych, who was accused of corruption and perceived by many Ukrainians to be a Kremlin puppet.
Citing concerns to ethnic Russians and other minorities, Russia annexed the Crimea from Ukraine in March — an action that triggered an ongoing armed conflict between pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine’s east and government troops.
Throughout the conflict, pro-Russian and pro-Ukrainian propagandists have accused one another of espousing anti-Semitism.