Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 207

The controversy surrounding anti-Semitic comments made last month by a radical member of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) escalated over the weekend. During a rally Saturday (November 7) marking the anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution, the head of the party’s Moscow branch declared himself in “solidarity” with Albert Makashov, the former Soviet army general who made the original comments. During a protest last month, Makashov, one of the instigators of the October 1993 anti-Yeltsin rebellion, said that Russia’s “yids” should be rounded up and jailed. KPRF leader Gennady Zyuganov was at last Saturday’s rally, and did not distance himself from the pro-Makashov comments. Last Wednesday (November 4), the State Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, voted down an initiative to censure Makashov.

In an interview with NTV television, CIS Executive Secretary and leading financier Boris Berezovsky declared that the KPRF has placed itself both “outside the laws of the civilized world and outside the laws of Russia.” They should, he said, be “immediately banned.” Berezovsky’s call was echoed by Yegor Gaidar, Russia’s former acting premier, who now heads the Democratic Choice of Russia Party (Russian agencies, November 8). Gaidar charged that the KPRF’s Duma faction last week had expressed its solidarity with Makashov’s “zoological anti-Semitism.” Gaidar made his comments during a November 7 gathering to honor what its organizers called the “Day of Remembrance for the Martyrs of Long-Suffering Russia.” It was attended by Boris Nemtsov, Anatoly Chubais, former Economics Ministers Yevgeny Yasin and Yakov Urinson, and top Our Home is Russia official Aleksandr Shokhin, among others (Russian agencies, November 7).

Zyuganov characterized Berezovsky’s call for a ban on the KPRF as “an expression of utter extremism unacceptable for someone who occupies such an important post in the CIS.” Everyone at demonstrations, the Communist Party leader added, has the right to express an opinion. Following Makashov’s comments last month, the KPRF mildly rebuked him for violating the party’s putative commitment to “friendship among peoples.” For his part, Duma Speaker Gennady Seleznev, also a top KPRF official, called Berezovsky’s comments the financier’s “latest hysterics,” the words of “an extremist.”

Aleksandr Shokhin, along with Sergei Ivanenko, deputy head of the Yabloko faction in the Duma, strongly criticized the KPRF for anti-Semitism, but said they opposed banning the party (Russian agencies, November 8). Last Thursday (November 5), President Boris Yeltsin issued a statement saying he guaranteed constitutional protection for ethnic minorities and criticizing verbal attacks on leading liberal journalists by some opposition members (Reuters, November 8).