Chief Rabbi cries foul over anti-Semitic remarks from ruling party candidate

Chief Rabbi of Russia Berel Lazar. © Alexander Vilf
Russia’s Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar has complained to the head of the United Russia party, PM Dmitry Medvedev, over lenient punishment of a candidate who accused Jews of a conspiracy against the Russian people during regional primaries.

In an open letter posted on his Facebook page, Berel Lazar asked Medvedev and other United Russia leaders to remove the candidate in question – 67-year-old pensioner Vladislav Vikhorev – from the party primaries over statements made during primaries’ debates in the industrial city of Chelyabinsk in central Russia.

During the discussion Vikhorev vented a whole array of anti-Semitic remarks and prejudices. Local mass media reported that officials from United Russia’s Chelyabinsk branch chose not to remove Vikhorev from the primaries. They merely warned him that insulting someone’s ethnicity during political campaigns was inadmissible.

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The Jewish community in Russia is shocked by the anti-Semitic stunt of one of the participants of United Russia’s primaries in Chelyabinsk, Vladislav Vikhorev, who claimed that there was a so-called Jewish conspiracy against the Russian people. But we are even more perplexed by the fact that the organizational committee only issued a warning to the anti-Semite and left him among the candidates in the elections list of the party that you chair,” Lazar’s letter reads.

The Chief Rabbi added that Russian Jews knew and highly valued Medvedev’s personal stance on the national issue as well as the position of President Vladimir Putin, who has repeatedly urged Russian society to adopt zero tolerance to any manifestations of xenophobia and anti-Semitism.

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Talking to RIA Novosti, deputy head of United Russia’s General Council, Andrey Isayev, said that Lazar’s address would be forwarded to the conflict commission. He said the commission would check the claims made in the letter and if they prove true the candidate who turned to ethnic hatred as a political tool would be removed from the elections, as such behavior contradicts United Russia’s ideology.

United Russia’s primaries are scheduled for May 22 and will take place during the course of one day all over the country. The candidates’ debates are happening on weekends until May 15. The results of the primaries will be the basis for the elections lists that United Russia will use at the nationwide parliamentary polls in September.