Putin Opening Way For Anti-Semitic Campaign In Russia – OpEd


The Kremlin is currently trying to come up with new narratives for the upcoming year, Vladimir Pastukhov says. Among those it has been trying out involves “the injection of anti-Semitic hysteria” given Vladimir Putin’s recent suggestion that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is “a shame of the Jewish people.”

“Borrowing fragments from the Black Hundreds is nothing new,” the London-based Russian analyst says. But “never before has the anti-Semitic wave been launched directly by the ruling elite,” especially at a time when “the Semites themselves are so widely and diversely represented in it” (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=648ED341EBF11).

According to Pastukhov, “the theme of Zelensky’s Jewishness is being spread about with increasing frequency.” Up to now, this might appear almost neutral, but it is happening with the clear expectation that the trained eyes of  the laymen will focus not on the context of these remarks but on their subtext.”

That subject is both “simple and more importantly familiar: the Jews dragged the Russian and Ukrainian peoples into the war, thus carrying out the orders of the American imperialists.” That has long been a theme among Russian nationalists, but now it is being advanced by Putin himself.

“Step by step,” Pastukhov says, “an ideological basis is being laid for pogroms” because the message of such comments is that “it isn’t the defense ministry and the FSB who are responsible for the war but ordinary Jews. What a surprise.” Ever more Jews in Russia will soon be reminded of who they are.

According to the London analyst, “anti-Semitism in Russia is always multifunctional: it starts with shopkeepers and ends with showdowns at the very top of the elite. Because that is the case, the new trend can also be viewed as preparation” for moves not so much against Kyiv as against people in Moscow.

“Historical experience suggests that if the anti-Semitic trend has identified itself in the Kremlin, then it will not disappear anywhere but will only develop and most likely will merge with another powerful trend in public opinion, hostility to the oligarchs,” something that under Russian conditions, “with rare exceptions, is almost the same thing.”

This merger will lead to a reformatting of Russian political life and that this autumn in Russia will be colored “in bright black and gold colors,” the colors used by the Black Hundreds a century ago, a development some Russian nationalists have long hoped for (stoletie.ru/vzglyad/pozor_jevrejskogo_naroda_262.htm).

Putin’s charge come on the centenary of Igor Shafarevich who popularized the notion of “the small people,” that is the Jews, as a threat to the Russians and who first brought the idea of Russophobia to prominence at the end of Soviet times 

Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .

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