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Vandals Break Headstones in Moscow Jewish Cemetery

July 20, 1998
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Some 30 Jewish headstones have been desecrated in a cemetery here.

The vandalism, discovered July 16, occurred at the Vostryakovo cemetery, the only cemetery in Moscow that has a Jewish section.

It was the latest incident in a series of recent attacks on Jewish targets in and around the Russian capital city.

A local prosecutor said the vandalism was most likely the work of teen-agers, but he added that investigators are considering the possibility of neo-Nazi involvement in the attack.

Jewish groups said they suspected anti-Semitism was behind the attack, which comes after the bombing of a Moscow synagogue in May and the desecration of a Jewish cemetery near the city last month.

“I’m confident that this was no childish naughtiness,” Alexander Osovtsov, executive vice president of the Russian Jewish Congress, said in an interview.

Last week’s attack — which received surprisingly extensive coverage in leading newspapers and television channels here — left 22 headstones toppled and eight others broken into pieces. Most of the toppled stones were set upright last Friday, and the cemetery’s director promised to replace the damaged stones with new ones.

Unlike last month’s incident at a cemetery near Moscow, when some of the headstones were smeared with anti-Semitic slogans, no such graffiti was left in the latest attack.

Osovtsov said his group will demand that the city step up security around Jewish sites. Most Moscow cemeteries do not have security guards and are rarely patrolled by police.

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