Weekly News Update 

WASHINGTON, D.C. November 7, 2014



TO: NCSEJ Leadership and Interested Parties

FROM: Stephen M. Greenberg, Chairman;
Alexander Smukler, NCSEJ President;
Mark B. Levin, NCSEJ Executive Director
Dear Friend,

Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili fired Defense Minister Irakli Alasania this week, triggering a major political crisis. Several pro-European government ministers, including Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze, have since resigned, protesting Alasania's dismissal and other policies of the Prime Minister. Concerns are growing about the targeting of pro-Western politicians, and Georgia's future political course overall. The update includes several articles analyzing these latest developments.

An annual nationalist march took place on Tuesday in Moscow, on Russia's official Unity Day. Analysts point out that while turnout for the march was lower than in previous years, nationalism is in fact growing among the Russian population. Nationalism has become a key tenet of President Putin' ideology that emphasizes conservative values, patriotism, and anti-Americanism.

An even more radical nationalism is also on the rise in Russia. I would like to highlight a New York Times op-ed by Masha Gessen that reviews anti-immigrant and other radical nationalist sentiments the Kremlin uses to justify its foreign and domestic policies.

One of the most disturbing examples is a recent article published by popular news site (now under new Kremlin-backed management), which 'investigated' the ethnic background of wealthy Russians, identifying Jews, Ukrainians, Azeris, Armenians, and other 'non-Russian ethnicities' as holding a disproportionate amount of wealth. Such rhetoric in public discourse that encourages ethnic hatred and xenophobia is a dangerous development.

In a controversial statement this week, President Putin defended the Soviet Union's World War II-era pact with Nazi Germany, saying there was nothing wrong with this agreement. This is another example how Russian authorities are increasingly using historical events to bolster domestic support and justify Russian foreign policy.

On a more positive note, two ancient synagogues were rededicated this month in Voronezh and Krasnodar, Russia, which had been confiscated by during Soviet rule. After years of renovation sponsored by local Jewish communities, the synagogues are now open to the general public. Leaders of the Russian Jewish community called the rededication of the ancient synagogues a symbol of the restoration of Jewish life in Russia.

The World Union for Progressive Judaism held a successful regional conference last month, gathering hundreds of members of Progressive communities from Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus to meet and discuss issues of importance to the Jewish community.

Finally, in addition to following developments in the region, in the upcoming weeks we will focus our analysis on the implications of the U.S. elections on U.S. policy vis-�-vis the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.



Mark B. Levin

Executive Director

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Founded in 1971, NCSEJ represents the organized American Jewish community in monitoring and advocating on behalf of the estimated 1.5 million Jews in Eastern Europe and Eurasia, including the 15 successor states of the former Soviet Union. 
Phone: 202-898-2500 
NCSEJ is a beneficiary of The Jewish Federations of North America and the National Federation/Agency Alliance through its network of Federations. 
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