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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Shock Over Petition to Ban Jewish Groups

A senior rabbi and Israel's embassy on Tuesday criticized a group of nationalist State Duma deputies who accused Jews of fomenting ethnic hatred and called for all Jewish organizations in Russia to be banned.

The Foreign Ministry expressed regret about the matter and stressed that the Russian leadership rejects anti-Semitism.

In a petition, dated Jan. 13, some 20 Rodina and Communist deputies appealed to the prosecutor general to launch proceedings "on the prohibition in our country of all religious and ethnic Jewish organizations as extremist."

Echoing anti-Semitic tracts of the tsarist era, the petition's authors accused Jews of working against the interests of the countries where they live and of monopolizing power worldwide.

"It is possible to say that the entire democratic world today is under the monetary and political control of international Judaism, which high-profile bankers are openly proud of," it says.

Rabbi Adolf Shayevich said in a statement that the petition contained "lying facts and arguments, expressing the raving condition of animal anti-Semitism," and urged prosecutors to investigate it.

The Israeli Embassy said the petition espoused Nazi ideas, and lamented its appearance just days before the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland. The embassy called on authorities to act against those trying to "inflame nationalist discord."

The Prosecutor General's Office said Tuesday that no investigation would be made because the petition had been retracted.

A woman who answered the telephone at the office of Rodina Deputy Alexander Krutov, who signed the petition, said it was "withdrawn" but refused to comment further.

Interfax quoted Krutov as saying that anti-Semitism was "minimal" in Russia.

The Foreign Ministry said the petition had "nothing in common with the official stance of the Russian leadership, which categorically rejects any signs of interethnic strife and xenophobia, including anti-Semitism."

The ministry said it was "especially regrettable" that the petition appeared prior to the Auschwitz liberation commemorations.

Jewish leaders have praised President Vladimir Putin's government for encouraging religious tolerance, but rights groups say authorities are failing to adequately prosecute the perpetrators of anti-Semitic and racial violence in Russia.