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March 11, 2018 10:52 am

Putin Draws Scrutiny for Naming Jews ‘With Russian Citizenship’ as Potential 2016 US Election Meddling Suspects

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Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photo: Kremlin.ru via Wikimedia Commons.

A suggestion by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s in a NBC News interview that Jews might have meddled in the 2016 US presidential election raised eyebrows across the world this weekend.

Dismissing allegations that the Kremlin orchestrated an effort to bolster Donald Trump and undermine Hillary Clinton, Putin — who is expected to easily win re-election in a March 18 vote — queried NBC’s Megyn Kelly, “Why have you decided the Russian authorities, myself included, gave anybody permission to do this?”

Referring to special counsel Robert Mueller’s recent indictment of 13 Russian nationals and three Russian companies for election interference, Putin asked, “So what if they’re Russians? There are 146 million Russians. So what? … I don’t care. I couldn’t care less. … They do not represent the interests of the Russian state.”

“Maybe they’re not even Russians,” he continued. “Maybe they’re Ukrainians, Tatars, Jews, just with Russian citizenship. Even that needs to be checked. Maybe they have dual citizenship. Or maybe a green card. Maybe it was the Americans who paid them for this work. How do you know? I don’t know.”

In a tweet on Saturday, the American Jewish Committee (AJC) called Putin’s words “eerily reminiscent of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”

“He should clarify his comments at the earliest opportunity,” the AJC said.

On Sunday, Anti-Defamation League (ADL) CEO Jonathan Greenblatt stated, “President Putin bizarrely has resorted to the blame game by pointing the finger at Jews and other minorities in his country.”

“It is deeply disturbing to see the Russian president giving new life to classic antisemitic stereotypes that have plagued his country for hundreds of years, with a comment that sounds as if it was ripped from the pages of the ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion,’” Greenblatt continued. “We live in a moment when antisemitic incidents are on the rise and words can have profound consequences, particularly when spoken by public figures or elected officials like President Putin. We hope he swiftly clarifies his words before they cause further damage to those communities he has singled out.”

Israeli lawmaker Ksenia Svetlova, of the center-left Zionist Union list, also criticized Putin in a tweet.

The National Coalition Supporting Eurasian Jewry (NCSEJ) described Putin’s remarks as “troubling” and asked the Russian leader to “clarify exactly what he meant when singling out Jews and others for meddling in the 2016 American elections.”

“Russia’s history of anti-Semitism goes back centuries,” the NCSEJ said. “It is unfortunate that President Putin, who has gone out of his way to support the Russian Jewish community, resorted in this interview to promoting old and offensive stereotypes.”

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