Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 49

officials yesterday expressed concern over evidence of growing anti-Semitism in Russia and said that they would raise the issue in upcoming talks between the two countries. State Department spokesman James Rubin pointed to an incident of vandalism directed on March 8 at a synagogue in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk. He said that the United States deplored the vandalism and urged Russian leaders to speak out against anti-Semitism. Rubin also told reporters that President Bill Clinton has raised U.S. concerns over attitudes toward Jews and other religious minorities in Russia and that the issue “remains a key element of our dialogue with the Russian leadership” (AP, March 10).

A spokesman for U.S. Vice President Al Gore conveyed much the same message yesterday. He said that Gore would express U.S. concerns over Russian anti-Semitism when he meets later this month in Washington with Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov.

Yesterday’s White House reactions reportedly follow, by two days, a confidential letter to the vice president from Senators Gordon Smith of Oregon and Joseph Biden of Delaware–the Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on European Affairs. According to a news agency report, the letter called on Gore to warn Primakov that the United States will reduce assistance to Russia unless action is taken to rein in “fascist extremism” in Russia. The two lawmakers also suggested that the Clinton administration should not shy away from linking American foreign policy toward Moscow with Russia’s human rights practices (UPI, March 10).

The issue of Russian anti-Semitism is likely to be on the agenda as well during a visit to Moscow later this month by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. During talks of his own in Moscow in January of this year, Israeli Foreign Minister Ariel Sharon expressed concern over security for Jews in Russia. He also told Russian leaders that relations between Israel and Russia would in part depend on an improvement in attitudes toward Russian Jews (Itar-Tass, January 20).