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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Stabber Says Attack Was Anti-Semitic

A young man arrested in the stabbing of a Jewish leader admitted that the attack was anti-Semitic, but claimed he was not acting for any political group.

In an interview with NTV television aired Wednesday, Nikita Krivchun, 20, said he stabbed Leopold Kaimovsky, the director of the Jewish Cultural Center at Moscow's Choral Synagogue, because he was opposed to Judaism.

"I've never met this man before, I never knew him personally. I have nothing against him. It was not an act of revenge against him. It was a political act,'' said Krivchun, whose hand was bandaged.

"I have a slogan, 'Struggle with Evil.' Struggle with Evil, that is with Judaism," he said.

Kaimovsky was stabbed in the knee, thigh, shoulder, face and stomach with a large hunting knife at Moscow's Choral Synagogue on Tuesday. He was in grave condition Wednesday after a six-hour operation to close several wounds that included ruptured intestines, said Dr. Nail Yegofarov, one of doctors treating him. Yegofarov said it was too early to say if the operation was successful.

Krivchun is likely to be charged with attempted murder motivated by ethnic, racial or religious hatred, said an official with the Moscow prosecutor's office, Itar-Tass reported.

The Israeli Embassy issued a statement saying it was "following with great concern the appearance of anti-Semitism in Russia, which is being seen more often and becoming more serious."

"We are convinced that the security forces must make greater efforts to get rid of this pernicious phenomenon," it added.

Igor Zyskin of the Israeli Cultural Center said no group linked to Jewish issues or Israel was safe. He said the street outside the center was covered with anti-Semitic posters from the extreme right-wing Russian National Union.

But he said the center saw the knifing as the act of an individual rather than a part of some kind of organized assault.

"There are many idiots to whom you can say something and they will believe it and go and act," Zyskin said.

He said he believed the rise in anti-Semitism had been fueled by falling living standards.

Patriarch Alexy II sent a telegram Wednesday to Russia's chief rabbi, Adolf Shayevich, expressing condolences.

Alexy II strongly denounced the crime "like any manifestations of violence, extremism and ethnic strife," Interfax reported. The patriarch wished peace and prosperity to members of the Russian Jewish community, the news agency said. Concern has grown among Jewish groups, especially since a Communist member of parliament was filmed at rallies last year making anti-Jewish speeches.

The Russian Jewish Congress, headed by media baron Vladimir Gusinsky, said it had sent a letter to the election committee asking that any party or candidate for December's parliamentary election be banned if they had made anti-Semitic remarks, and raised the specter of the Nazi Holocaust.

"Today knives are being used, tomorrow smoke will be seen rising from the crematoria," it said.

Nationalities Minister Ramazan Abdulatipov urged stronger action against anti-Semitic attacks and other hate crimes in the wake of the stabbing, Itar-Tass reported. Russia's government and society "have become hostages to nationalism, chauvinism and extremism," he was quoted as saying.

The United States on Wednesday condemned the knife attack as a "cowardly act of terrorism."

"Anti-Semitism, religious and racial intolerance and acts of terrorism like this are intolerable and have no place in a democratic society," State Department spokesman James Rubin said in a statement.