While these dire occurrences were taking place, the State Duma, the opposition-dominated lower house of Russia’s parliament, refused to pass a measure condemning Albert Makashov, a former Soviet general and hardline opposition member, for anti-Semitic comments he made during a demonstration last month. Makashov, a member of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) and one of the organizers of the October 1993 uprising against Yeltsin, said that the “yids” should be rounded up and jailed, and Yeltsin turned into a bar of soap. The KPRF subsequently mildly rebuked Makashov, but on Saturday, during as demonstration in Moscow marking the November 7 Bolshevik Revolution, Aleksandr Kuvaev, head of the KPRF’s Moscow branch, declared: “General Makashov might have pronounced inappropriate words, but we are in solidarity with him.” Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov, who was also on the stage, did not rebuke Kuvaev. On Sunday, financier Boris Berezovsky, who is currently CIS executive secretary, called for the KPRF to be “immediately banned.” Anti-Semitism is a crime under Russian law.

During last week’s parliamentary debate over Makashov’s comments, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, head of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, helped set the tone, saying the Jews are “very strong, talented and wealthy and they can compensate for the moral damage they incurred [from Makashov’s remarks] by taking a nice vacation.”