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Press ReleaseAnti-Semitism-International
David Duke Sets His Sights on Russia: ADL Says U.S. Bigot Aims to Foment Anti-Semitism Abroad

ADL Issues First Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents in Russia

New York, NY, February 26, 2001 Ö David Duke, the white supremacist and hatemonger who portrays himself as a "civil rights leader" in the United States, is carrying his homespun message of anti-Semitism and racial superiority abroad. In a new report, the Anti-Defamation Leagueís (ADL) Center on Anti-Semitism and Extremism in Russia says Duke has set his sights on Russia, a nation he describes as holding "the key to white survival."

Dukeís new focus comes at a time when anti-Semitism remains one of the most common expressions of ethnic and religious intolerance in Russia today. According to just-released statistics from ADL, Russia experienced 18 major attacks on Jews and Jewish property in at least nine cities during the year 2000.

"There is an underbelly of anti-Semitism in Russia which David Duke is hoping to add to and exploit," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "Anti-Semitism, with deep roots in Russia, is being stirred up by nationalist leaders and extremists. David Duke has detected an opportunity to spread his hatred of Jews and other minority groups among like-minded bigots."

The Louisiana-based white supremacist and former Klansman has made several recent visits in Russia to meet with nationalist leaders and to promote a Russian-language adaptation of his book, My Awakening, which bears the title, The Jewish Question Through the Eyes of An American. His message is intended to have impact in a nation where anti-Semitism remains one of the most common expressions of ethnic and religious intolerance and xenophobia.

ADLís Center on Anti-Semitism and Extremism in Russia has issued two new reports: one detailing Dukeís activities abroad, and another an overview of anti-Semitism in Russia, including year 2000 statistics.

Notorious in the United States, where he has remained on the fringe despite several attempts to run for elected office and, more recently, to crusade at the national level for "European American rights," Duke has introduced himself as a mainstream author and politician to a largely unsuspecting Russian audience.

"Despite his anti-Semitism and racism, David Duke has not been barred from Russia and not many leading figures have spoken out against him," said Lev Krichevsky, Director of ADLís Center on Anti-Semitism and Extremism in Russia. "Dukeís activities may be a sign of an apparent willingness of Russian leaders to tolerate the views and activities of ultranationalists."

Duke has held a rally at a respected literary museum and met with nationalist leaders, according to the ADL report, David Duke in Russia. He has met with former Communist lawmaker Albert Makashov, who is well known for his anti-Semitic statements. Duke initially came to Russia at the invitation of Aleksander Prokhanov, editor-in-chief of Zavtra (Tomorrow), an ultranationalist newspaper, and Konstnatin Kasimovsky, the head of an anti-Semitic organization called "Russian Action." At the time, several Russian nationalist publications ran reports on Dukeís visit to Moscow. An Internet forum of Russian neo-Nazi skinheads praised the meeting with a man they characterized as "a well-known American patriot."

Duke reportedly has expressed a willingness to move to Russia to work with extremists there.

Anti-Semitism in Russia in 2000: An Overview

Anti-Semitism remains one of the most common expressions of ethnic and religious intolerance and xenophobia in Russia today, according to the ADL report, Anti-Semitism in Russia in 2000: An Overview. Russia's record of anti-Semitism throughout most of its history is well known. But anti-Jewish prejudices and conduct are not only a heritage of the Tsarist and Communist past. At any given moment in Russian history, anti-Semitism and the type of response it receives reflects the current economic, social and political situation in Russia and the level of maturity of its civil society. In 2000, similar to previous years in post-Communist history, the Russian response to anti-Semitism remained ambiguous while the number of anti-Semitic incidents was consistent with levels reported in 1999.

The 2000 Statistics

Eighteen major attacks on Jews and Jewish property were reported during the year 2000, though many more likely went unreported to police or human rights organizations. This marks ADLís first attempt to gather statistics on anti-Semitism in Russia, based upon the Leagueís 22-year model for auditing anti-Semitic incidents in the United States. Due to a lack of monitoring structure in Russia and unwillingness by law enforcement to report incidents, ADLís findings are necessarily fraught with problems and likely do not accurately reflect the reality on the ground. The League is hopeful these factors will improve over time.

There were two cases involving violence against individuals on the basis of their Jewish religion or ethnicity, compared to one such incident a year ago. The number of incidents involving vandalism of Jewish cemeteries, one of the most common types of hate crimes, decreased from 6 in 1999 to 2 in 2000. The only category of incidents that saw a significant increase in 2000 was harassment. Six such cases were reported to ADL, Jewish communities and law enforcement agencies, compared to only one incident in 1999.

Anti-Semitic incidents occurred in at least nine Russian cities, compared to seven locations in 1999. The communities directly affected by the manifestations of anti-Semitism in 2000 included such varied locations as the western-most Russian city of Kaliningrad, Chelyabinsk in east Russia, the central Russian city of Ryazan, the southern city of Nalchik in the Caucasus mountains, and the small Siberian town of Samotlor. Among the incidents reported:

  • the looting of a synagogue in Nalchik in May;
  • arson attacks on synagogues and community centers in Moscow and Kaliningrad in September and October;
  • a raid on a Jewish Sunday school in Ryazan by neo-Nazi youth, who broke windows and furniture and threatened teachers and students in September;
  • vandalism in Jewish cemeteries in Nalchik and Nizhniy Novgorod in February and June;
  • the fire-bombing of a Jewish-run newspaper in Volgograd in November;
  • the beating of three Orthodox Jewish schoolboys in Moscow in March.

Russian Anti-Semitism on the Internet

Russian ultranationalists increased their presence on the Internet in 2000. As of December, there were at least 64 Russian Web sites and three large Web portals regularly engaged in distributing anti-Semitic, racist and hate propaganda online.

EDITORS NOTE: For additional information anti-Semitism in Russia and David Duke, and to arrange interviews with ADL experts, contact the Media Relations Department at via telephone at (212) 885-7749 or via email.

The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.

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