Anti-Semitism is on the rise in Putin’s Russia, writes Victor Davidoff in the Moscow Times. The article introduces us to one Ulyana Skoibeda, a controversial nationalist whose articles attacking Jews and Judaism are now carried in one of Russia’s most popular newspapers, Komsomolskaya Pravda. But she’s not alone, as Davidoff makes clear in his account of the broader political situation in the country:
Since President Vladimir Putin first came to power, Russia has become a field where the threatening weeds of xenophobia and nationalism grow rampant. In Moscow, thousands have marched in nationalist demonstrations and taken part in riots. Crimes motivated by nationalism are so common that they are barely worth mentioning on the local crime news. Following the dark logic of European nationalism, whomever Russian nationalists start with as their enemy — migrant workers or African soccer players — sooner or later they get to the Jews. […]Anti-Semitism always flares up in Russia whenever the political situation heats up. Today’s patriots, like the monarchists a century ago, can’t help but notice that there are several Jews among the opposition leaders. They also can’t resist the chance to portray the entire opposition as secret agents of “Jewish capital.”
This kind of scapegoating and nasty tribal hatred is a predictable consequence to the nationalist passions Putin has stoked in his country. Both in his foreign policy regarding Ukraine and Georgia and his domestic legislation, Putin has made a point of stressing Russia’s difference from the West and its unique ethnic heritage. In a country with a history of anti-Semitism, this strategy was bound to revive the oldest hatred.