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Putin: Jews Can “Take Refuge” in Russia

TNO Staff

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Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a formal invitation to the Jews of Europe to “take refuge” in Russia during a meeting with the executive committee of the European Jewish Congress (EJC) this week, according to a report in the Moscow business newspaper Kommersant.


The Kommersant (“The Businessman”) is Russia’s most prominent liberal business broadsheet, with a daily circulation of around 120,000.

The meeting between Putin and the EJC took place on Tuesday this week in the Kremlin. According to the Kommersant, the EJC specifically asked Putin to “protect them from rampant anti-Semitism in Europe,” but the “Russian president vowed to go much further.”

The conversation started with EJC President Dr. Moshe Kantor (“Vyacheslav” Kantor in Russian) telling Putin that the Jews of Europe were “gripped by fear” because of “rising anti-Semitism” and that it was possible there would be a “new exodus” of Jews from the Continent.

Putin replied that he was aware of this, but that he did not think the situation was similar to that during the Second World War. “It is worse than you might think,” Kantor responded, to which Putin replied, “well, maybe.”

Kantor continued: “The threat comes not only from terrorists. The threat also comes from the radical nationalists.”

Kantor revealed that the European Jewish Congress had recently discussed cooperating with the anti-immigrant Front National in France, and had firmly rejected any such possibility.

As a result, he said, Jews were now seriously considering just leaving. At this point, according to Kommersant, Putin laughed and said, “We are ready [to take in the Jews].”

To this, Kantor said that this was a “fundamentally new idea” and that the EJC would “certainly discuss it.”


The EJC’s own coverage of the meeting makes no mention of this exchange, even though the Kommersant ran it as a headline story.

According to the EJC report, the meeting discussed “the rise of Antisemitism and the threat of global terror,” and was attended by “representatives from the communities of France, the United Kingdom, Russia, Spain, Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, and Latvia.”

The Kommersant, on the other hand, noted that Putin paid the Jewish group his “maximum attention”—in that “Putin walked hand in hand” with each of the nine-strong delegation, and “even stroked the elbow of the Chief Rabbi of Russia Berel Lazar, an honor not accorded even to major business leaders invited to the Kremlin before the New Year.”

The Kommersant also noted that as part of the Russian delegation, “interestingly, at the Russian president’s side, sat two prominent public figures of the Russian Jewish movement: President of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia Alexander Boroda” and the “already mentioned Berel Lazar.”

This was, the Kommersant said, done deliberately to enhance Putin’s status with the visiting delegation.

What makes the Kommersant article even more intriguing is the fact that the newspaper’s founder, the Russian Jew Vladimir Yakovlev, had, as recently as 2014, left Russia claiming to be a “refugee,” saying that Russia was no longer safe for Jews.

According to an article in the US state-financed Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) titled “Jews Are Fleeing Russia Because Of Putin” (July 03, 2015), “just a year ago, Russian journalist Vladimir Yakovlev was one of Moscow’s most influential media figures,” but today, “he lives a quiet life in Tel Aviv and has swapped his Russian passport for an Israeli one.”


RFE/RL said that Yakovlev, “the founder of the respected Kommersant publishing house and the Snob magazine, belongs to a new wave of disillusioned Russian Jews deserting their country for the relative stability of Israel.”

The RFE/RL article quotes Yakovlev as saying that the “main reason why I left, is the fact that our value system was destroyed. Life in Russia has turned into Russian roulette. Every morning you turn the roulette wheel, you never know what is going to happen to you.”

The article continued by asserting that “Spooked by Russia’s actions in Ukraine and by the increasingly stringent punishments for anyone deemed critical of the Kremlin, Russians of Jewish descent have been fleeing in droves over the past 18 months.”

It adds that, according “to Israeli authorities, as many as 4,685 Russian citizens relocated to Israel in 2014—more than double than in any of the previous 16 years. And the trend seems to be accelerating.”

Furthermore, the RFE/RL article continued, “Yakovlev, however, doesn’t consider himself a simple immigrant. He is, in his own words, a refugee.”

It quotes him as saying that “People usually emigrate due to domestic circumstances. People are now leaving because they are scared to stay where they would like to live. They are running from Russia.”

The article then goes on to quote another Russian Jewish émigré, Mikhail Kaluzhsky, described as a “journalist and playwright from Moscow” who is “typical of the new wave of Russian immigrants.”

Kaluzhsky said his decision to leave Russia is “directly linked to politics.” He witnessed the January 2014 uprising in the Ukraine, and soon afterwards, lost his job with the Sakharov human rights organization as a result of Russia’s new “foreign agent” law.

That law, signed by Putin in 2012, forces NGOs that receive foreign funding and are deemed to carry out political activities to register as foreign agents, the RFE/RL report said. The Sakharov Center was forced to scrap its theater projects, to which Kaluzhsky had actively contributed.

Finally, he said, Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine was the last straw. “After Crimea, our family decided to distance itself from all of this, most of all from the government.”

Putin’s latest overture to the EJC seems, therefore, to be part of his attempts to repair this damage between himself and the Jewish community, which appears increasingly fractured as the pressure mounts in Europe thanks to the mass Muslim invasion of that continent.