Russia probing Jewish law as "incitement"

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Monday, June 27, 2005

The Moscow District Prosecutor's Office has dropped its investigation of Russian Jewry on charges of racist incitement and distribution of anti-Russian material for having published an abridged translation of a 16th Century Hebrew text on Jewish law. Jewish leaders were summoned for questioning about the Kitzur Shulkhan Arukh as the apparent first step of a probe into whether all Jewish organizations should be banned in Russia.

Disbanding all Jewish organizations in Russia was requested in a January 13, 2005 letter to the State Prosecutor General signed by 20 members of the Russian State Duma. The letter was expanded into a petition signed by 500 well-known public figures, church officials and army generals in March. After being published in a St. Petersburg newspaper, the petition gleaned 5,000 signatures. It called the Jewish religion anti-Christian and inhumane, and even practicing ritual murder of Christian children [1] Excerpts in English].

Although the Russian Foreign Ministry had condemned the letter, the St. Petersburg District Prosecutor's Office declared that it was not anti-Semitic and declined to file incitement charges against Rus Pravoslavnaya, the newspaper that published it.

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