Staunton, August 12 – On August 6, a Russian anti-Semite attacked Vladimir Tsetlin, a distinguished senior researcher at the Moscow Institute for Medical-Biological Problems, saying that “Hitler didn’t get you, but I will.” The attacker chased him into a shop but no one around tried to stop him.
Commenting on this event, Igor Yakovenko of Yezhednevny zhurnal says that the attack, however tragic, was the work on one man; but what followed, “the deafening silence of the state” about it will be taken by many as “a sign of the government’s agreement” with the attack and thus an invitation to more (ej.ru/?a=note&id=36406).
In Soviet times, state anti-Semitism was always “a little shamefaced,” because communists couldn’t openly say they were anti-Semites given that the founder of their ideology was a Jew. But the phenomenon nonetheless existed both in the dark last years of Stalin’s rule and later under Brezhnev and his discriminatory regime.
“In the leadership of the USSR [in the latter period] functioned the so-called ‘Russian Party,’” Yakovenko recalls. “It was a strange informal union of people from literature and art with part of the leadership of the CPSU and the KGB.” It fought to promote Russian first nationalism and to exclude Jews from positions of prominence.
“When he came to power, Yury Andropov completed defeated the Russian Party as it got in the way of much that he wanted to do.” According to the Yezhednevny zhurnal commentator, “this was the only good deed he did during his short time in office.” But after Andropov died, the
Russian Party re-emerged.
Now, “in Putin’s Russia, the Rusisan Party in fact is in power,” Yakovenko says. “Today the favorite world on television and in Putin’s rhetoric and of other bosses is ‘Russophobia,
The very term that one of the most committed anti-Semites [of the Russian Party of the past] Igor Shafarevich used for the title of his chief work.”
Another Russian commentator, Vadim Zaydman, who now lives in Germany, says that he too sees anti-Semitism reemerging as Russian government policy now because Putin is himself an anti-Semite – he isn’t, Zaydman says – but because anti-Semitism is the last card authoritarian rulers have to play, especially in Russia (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=611506519DDCA).
Indeed, “the anti-Semitism of the not anti-Semitic Putin has brought Russia very close to the line beyond which is the rebirth of state anti-Semitism,” “the last card of the Putin dictatorship,” one it will play when Russians are no longer mobilized sufficiently by all the other enemies the Kremlin has offered them.
What makes this development especially disturbing is that it comes during a week when 74 years ago, Stalin launched his state anti-Semitic campaign under the banner of a fight against cosmopolitanism, exactly the same kind of cover that Putin’s fight against Russophobia appears to provide his regime to cover this most ancient evil.