Anti-Semitism in Russia: Some 5,000 Christian Orthodox activists in Russia have signed a petition that calls for outlawing Jewish organizations in the country.
The petition calls for a ban on Jewish groups and argues that Jewish literature, such as the book Shulchan Aruch (a repository of Jewish Law written originally by Rabbi Yosef Karo in the 1560's,) foments religious hatred.
The petition was sent to the State Prosecutor's Office, but at this time it is unclear whether the state prosecutor received the petition or how he will act on the matter.
Among those who signed the petition are several prominent Russian public figures, such as former Chess World Champion Boris Spassky, author Vasily Belov, and mathematician Igor Shafarevich.
Russian Parliament Member Alexander Krutov told the Moscow Times "the public raises such questions (regarding the banning of Jewish organizations), and they should be discussed."
He said those who signed the petition are members of a religious Orthodox group.
In January some 500 Russians, among them 20 members of the State Duma (the lower house of parliament,) presented a similar letter to the Prosecutor's Office.
The letter said Jewish organizations were "anti-Christian and inhumane, and their customs go as far as ceremonial murder."
Shalom to discuss issue with Putin
Boris Gorin of the Jewish Communities Federation of Russia told Interfax an official investigation should be launched against those who express blatant anti-Semitism.
Regarding Boris Spassky, he said "people who have achieved success in life and hold certain status in society must understand they are putting their name to shame when they sign such petitions."
Israeli Foreign Ministry official Nimrod Barkan said "we are very concerned about the events that are taking place in Russia."
"The situation in Russia is the best it has been in recent years as far as anti-Semitism is concerned, but it is still worrying," he said. "What is particularly troubling is that the Russian authorities are not doing all they can to launch a vigorous campaign against anti-Semitic activity."
Barkan added that in 2004 some 155 anti-Semitic incidents occurred in Russia, compared to 83 in 2003.
"There are only 300,000 Jews in Russia; this is a small minority numerically speaking, but they hold a mythical role in the Russian perception," he said.
Barkan said Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom will discuss the issue with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is scheduled to visit Israel at the end of the month.