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28 Oct, 2022 13:16

Russian security chief apologizes for aide’s Jewish ‘cult’ comment

Nikolay Patrushev reacted after Russia’s chief rabbi dismissed the aide's claims as “anti-Semitic delirium”
Russian security chief apologizes for aide’s Jewish ‘cult’ comment

The secretary of the Russia's national security council, Nikolay Patrushev, has issued an apology and distanced the council from “untruthful remarks” about a Jewish group made by one of his aides in a recent opinion piece.

The religious community was outraged by claims that members of the Chabad-Lubavitch group considered the rest of humanity inferior to themselves.

The accusation, made by aide Aleksey Pavlov, is his personal viewpoint and does not in any way reflect the position of the Russian government, Patrushev stressed in a statement to the Argumenty i Fakty (AiF) newspaper, on Thursday. “Relevant action has been taken regarding the author,” he added.

The top official was referring to an opinion piece by his assistant, printed in the paper on Tuesday. He argued that Ukraine was being deliberately dragged towards various forms of paganism or cultism masquerading as mainstream religions, accusing some senior Ukrainian public figures of directing the process.

Among the targets of his verbal attack was Chabad-Lubavitch, a variant of Hasidic Judaism that originated over two centuries ago in what is now Vitebsk Region in Belarus, but was largely pushed out of the Soviet Union during the Bolshevik crackdown on religious practices.

Pavlov called the movement a “sect,” which in Russian has a pejorative meaning similar to the word “cult” in English, and claimed that its “main principle is the superiority of its members over all other nations and peoples.”

The characterization was strongly rejected by Russia’s chief rabbi, Berel Lazar, whose rebuke was published by AiF on Wednesday.

“It should be enough to say that 90% of rabbis working in Russian Jewish communities are part of Chabad, and I am one of them,” he wrote.

The movement rejects any form of idolatry, contrary to “Mr. Pavlov’s fantasies” and advocates respect for all monotheistic religions, all peoples, and every individual since we are “all in essence G-d’s children,” he added.

Lazar said he would have ignored Pavlov’s words as “vulgar anti-Semitic delirium” if he didn’t hold a high position in the Russian security council. He called for a “swift and unequivocal reaction” to it.