Russia probing Jewish law as "incitement"

Monday, June 27, 2005

The Moscow District Prosecutor's Office has dropped its investigation of Russian Jewry on charges of racist incitement and distribution of anti-Russian material for having published an abridged translation of a 16th Century Hebrew text on Jewish law. Jewish leaders were summoned for questioning about the Kitzur Shulkhan Arukh as the apparent first step of a probe into whether all Jewish organizations should be banned in Russia.

Disbanding all Jewish organizations in Russia was requested in a January 13, 2005 letter to the State Prosecutor General signed by 20 members of the Russian State Duma. The letter was expanded into a petition signed by 500 well-known public figures, church officials and army generals in March. After being published in a St. Petersburg newspaper, the petition gleaned 5,000 signatures. It called the Jewish religion anti-Christian and inhumane, and even practicing ritual murder of Christian children [1] Excerpts in English].

Although the Russian Foreign Ministry had condemned the letter, the St. Petersburg District Prosecutor's Office declared that it was not anti-Semitic and declined to file incitement charges against Rus Pravoslavnaya, the newspaper that published it.