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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Jewish Group Takes Russia to Task Over Xenophobia

A leading U.S.-based Jewish organization criticized Russian authorities Friday for a "slow" response to xenophobia and anti-Semitism amid mounting hate crimes and a spate of ultranationalist demonstrations.

Thousands of extreme nationalists and white supremacists marched Nov. 4 in Moscow and other cities for the third straight year on People's Unity Day, a public holiday the Kremlin inaugurated in 2005 to replace traditional celebrations of the 1917 Bolshevik rise to power.

"The manifestation on Unity Day certainly was a wake-up call," Abraham Foxman, national director of the New York-based Anti-Defamation League said during a visit to Moscow. "We are concerned."

Despite official condemnation of ultranationalist movements and racially motivated crimes, authorities should be more committed to curbing hate and nationalist sentiment in society, said Foxman, who met with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Mayor Yury Luzhkov as well as Jewish community leaders. "The implementation of law and order has been somewhat slow," Foxman said in an interview. "Are there arrests, prosecutions and convictions?"

At least 10 Jews have been assaulted in Russia this year, compared with the "usual" five to seven cases in recent years, said Alexander Verkhovsky, of the human rights group Sova, which monitors hate crimes.

The attacks represent a fraction of hate crimes the group has registered this year. About 50 people, mostly immigrants and migrants from Central Asia and the Caucasus, have been killed and more than 400 assaulted, he said.

Anti-Semitism is also manifested through occasional vandalism of synagogues and cemeteries, derogatory graffiti and accusatory publications. "There is a lot of anti-Semitic writing in Russia," Verkhovsky said.