Tuesday, February 27th | 18 Adar I 5784

May 10, 2012 10:28 am

Russian Jewish Leader Doubts Putin’s Commitment to Protecting Russia’s Jews

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avatar by Zachary Lichaa

Russian president Vladimir Putin with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Jewish Community Centre in Moscow. Photo: wiki commons.

During a meeting with Russian Jewish Congress head Yury Kanner, Vladimir Putin’s commitment to protecting the security of Russian Jews was placed in doubt.

“I don’t know,” Kanner said after a long pause following a question regarding Putin’s desire to secure the safety of Russia’s Jewish community.  “We need to build ourselves and we need to be able to maintain relations on different levels.  Even in Russia, one person can not guarantee everything.  Some things are dealt with by the religious groups and religious groups should take part in dialogue with Christians and Muslims.”

“Obama is more developed than Putin in his relationship with the Jewish community,” Kanner said.

Established in 1996, the Russian Jewish Congress raises and distributes money in Russia, Israel and former Soviet states to enhance Jewish life in these countries. Among the most important initiatives the RJC has undertaken, is its promotion of the significance of “Victory Day” in Russia to the Jewish community there.

“May 9th in ‘Victory Day’.  It is very important for Russian Jews and important for all Russians.  We are sponsoring a monument in Netanya, to all the Russian Jews living there – May 9th is their holy day,” Kanner said.

A monument is being erected in Netanya to commemorate the Red Army’s victory over Nazi Germany in World War II.  It is one of Kanner’s proudest achievements, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin will come to Netanya to celebrate the monument’s erection.

However, Kanner is less pleased with Russia’s refusal to make January 27th a nationwide Holocaust remembrance day.

“For many years we have tried but we still haven’t succeeded in making January 27th as an official day of holocaust remembrance for the victims of Russia.  It has very good coverage in media and television but it’s still not on the papers as the official date,” Kanner told The Algemeiner.

On the issue of the famous archival collection of The Schneerson Library –  a collection of books, manuscripts and other literary works that were nationalized in the early 20th century by the Bolsheviks and were sent to Russia’s state library – that is being taken up in U.S. courts following a lawsuit by the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, which claims ownership of the material, Kanner says there’s not much his group can do on the issue.

“We want this to be solved in the interests of Jews.  We don’t know yet how to do this today.  This case is already out of the discussion between Russian Jews and the government because it was taken to the U.S. courts,” he stated.

“I don’t know the precedent that Russians have ever given away anything that’s in their collections,” Kanner says. “I don’t believe in miracles.”

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