Prominent Zionist and former Soviet dissident, Natan Sharansky, thinks his former homeland isn’t descending into religious intolerance:
“There is no serious anti-Semitic problem in Russia on the state level, just as there is no anti-Semitic policy today in Russia”, said Nathan Scharansky, a renowned ‘refusenik’ of the Soviet epoch, former vice-premier of Ariel Sharon’s government, a prominent political figure in Israel and a Knesset member representing the Likud Party, during his visit to Moscow.
When asked about the notorious ‘Letter of the 500,’ Mr. Sharansky said the significance of this letter was over-estimated. “This is an isolated event. It is incorrect to say that it reflects the opinion of the authority or of Russia’s residents. Neither it is correct to say that Russia is an anti-Semitic state. Regarding this letter, I had to meet with a number of Russian scholars, public figures and authority officials. And I have made the conclusion that there is no anti-Semitism in Russia on the state level, just as there is no anti-Semitic policy today in Russia.”
Sharansky is woefully misinformed. Putin’s Russia has become a country where neo-Nazism, virulent nationalism, anti-Semitsm and bigotry are increasingly ignored by the authorities.