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1 Feb, 2008 18:56

From Russia with hate: Jew attacks get more violent

An apparent drop in the number of attacks on Jews in Russia appears to be masking a more troubling trend – the incidents are getting more violent. The community has suffered three attacks in just two weeks.

Young people protested in front of the Ulyanovsk Jewish cultural centre, a Holocaust memorial was desecrated in Volgograd, and in Nizhny Novgorod three young men broke into a synagogue shouting nationalist slogans.

“The rise of ethnic nationalism endangers the very foundation of Russia, which is a multiethnic and multiconfessional country,” Andrey Zolotov from Russia’s Profile magazine says.

Perhaps the most shocking and widely discussed act occurred two years ago, when a young man freely entered the doors of a synagogue in Moscow’s centre during an evening service. A Few minutes later a bloody drama played out. Aleksander Koptsev stabbed nine Jews.

The 20-year-old Muscovite was charged with attempted murder and fomentation of racial hatred. The verdict was 13 years behind bars – an outcome which did not satisfy the Jewish community.

Statistics from the Federation of Jewish Communities in Russia show that the number of anti-Semitic acts actually declined slightly last year.

“Social situation and political situation in the country became much more stable. Stability in the country is the best weapon against xenophobia. So we hope as Russia becomes stronger xenophobia will become less,” Borukh Gorin from the Federation of Jewish Communities says.

More than one per cent of Russian citizens are Jews.