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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Putin Says Jews Can't Be Target

Acting President Vladimir Putin said in a letter released Wednesday anti-Semitism would not be tolerated in Russia and pledged to take measures to stamp it out.

A statement issued by Putin's press service said he gave the assurance in a letter to the U.S. Congress.

He offered to cooperate with Western countries and international organizations to work against any resurgence of anti-Semitism, a recurring theme in Russian society dating from tsarist times.

"It was noted in the letter that any appearance of anti-Semitism in Russia ... amounts to an unacceptable expression of aggressive nationalism and there is no place for this in civilized society," the statement said.

"Examples were cited of concrete steps taken by the Russian leadership aimed at countering political and religious extremism."

Putin's letter, the statement said, was written in response to a call by 92 U.S. congressmen and 98 senators on the issue of anti-Semitism and religious extremism.

Jews encountered harsh treatment in Russia under tsarist rule.

In the Soviet era, Zionism was denounced as an evil and Jews were often viewed as suspect and disloyal.

The post-Soviet era has seen a mass departure of Jews, though more than 1 million remain.

There have been occasional outbursts of anti-Semitic comments by right-wing politicians, which Jews say have been fueled by economic hardship and periodic attacks on Jewish targets.

In July 1999, a bomb was found at a Moscow synagogue, and a young man with a swastika painted on his chest burst into the office of the head of a Jewish cultural center and stabbed him.