Russia

Praise for Sharansky's indomitable spirit on freedom anniversary

By Jennifer Lipman, February 23, 2011

Former Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky has marked 25 years since he escaped from behind the Iron Curtain.

Mr Sharansky, now the chairman of the Jewish Agency, spent almost ten years in a Siberian gulag as punishment for his political activism.

His lengthy struggle for freedom finally came to an end in February 1986, when he stepped across a bridge in Berlin and was then able to make aliyah to Israel.

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On this day: The Soviet Union cuts ties with Israel

By Jennifer Lipman, February 11, 2011

In 1947, The Soviet Union was one of 33 countries to vote in favour of the United Nation’s partition plan for Palestine. Almost immediately after Israel declared its independence on May 14 1948, the Soviet Union offered recognition, along with the United States and other Western powers.

It was not to last. The Soviet Union, as would almost all of its satellites, cut ties with Israel less than five years later.

For the next 35 years, the Soviets pursued largely pro-Arab policies and Israel was a pawn in a much wider game between the US and USSR.

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How Chabad triggered a superpower art war

By Paul Berger, February 10, 2011

Russia has halted the loan of artworks to major American museums because of a row between the Russian government and Chabad.

Works by Gauguin, Cézanne and Canaletto will be missing from exhibitions opening this month at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York, and at the National Gallery of Art in Washington.

Russian officials ordered state-run museums, such as the State Hermitage Museum and the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, not to release the works for fear they may be confiscated by US courts.

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Medvedev: Russia needs Israeli-style airport security

By Jennifer Lipman, January 25, 2011

The Russian president has said that the country will adopt Israeli-style security procedures in order to prevent a repeat of yesterday’s devastating suicide bombing.

Speaking less than 24-hours after a bomber blew themselves up in the middle of Moscow's Domodedovo airport, Dmitry Medvedev said "comprehensive checks" as used in Israel would be the only solution.

At least 35 people were killed in the attack, and many more were injured. Islamist militants from the Northern Caucasus region of Russia, which includes conflict-zone Chechnya, are believed to be behind the attack.

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On this day: The Doctors’ Plot

By Jennifer Lipman, January 13, 2011

In the terrible and tragic history of the Jewish experience in the post-war communist dictatorships of Eastern Europe, one incident in particular stands out. It began with an editorial published in the Pravda newspaper.

The article accused a group of nine high-profile doctors, two-thirds of whom were Jewish, of conspiring to assassinate the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin by poisoning him.

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Antisemitic 'Holocaust denier' in charge of WikiLeaks Russian distribution

By Jennifer Lipman, December 15, 2010

An antisemitic writer who has been described by anti-Fascist campaigners as a Holocaust denier is believed to be working as a Russian distributor for WikiLeaks.

Israel Shamir, a Swedish resident who also uses the names Jöran Jermas and Adam Ermash, has been identified as the WikiLeaks staff member responsible for choosing which leaked documents are distributed in Russia.

It is also claimed that his journalist son Johannes Wahlström, known to share some of Mr Shamir’s views and previously criticised for faking reports, works for WikiLeaks in Scandinavia.

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On this day: Fiddler on the Roof opens on Broadway

By Jennifer Lipman, September 22, 2010
The story of Tevye the milkman, his meddling wife and five willful daughters needs little introduction.

With songs including If I were a rich man and Matchmaker, Matchmaker, it has become one of most popular shows in history and been revived across the world.

Set against the backdrop of Tsarist Russia and the pogroms, the show had its origins in the Shalom Aleichem story Tevye and his daughters, and took its title from Marc Chagall’s painting The Fiddler.

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Israel and Russia in arms accord

September 6, 2010

Israel has signed the framework of a military co-operation agreement with Russia that could lead to exports of weapons and technology.

Israel defence minister Ehud Barak met his Russian opposite number Anatoly Serdyukov in Moscow on Monday where they discussed both weapons and military co-operation.

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Israelis in Moscow shul 'expulsion' row

By Jennifer Lipman, September 5, 2010

A dispute has broken out between the rabbi of a Moscow synagogue and a group of Israeli tourists who claim they were evicted from the building on Shabbat.

As part of a tour of Jewish sites in the Russian capital, the 14 Israelis went to see a 19th century synagogue near the Kremlin. But rather than invite them in, the rabbi asked them to leave.

The Israelis said that they had been expelled because the rabbi objected to them having also visited several churches.

But their version of events has been questioned.

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Jewish athletes win big at UK meeting

By Brian Sacks, August 19, 2010

Two Jewish athletes performed with distinction at the Diamond League event at Crystal Palace. In the top UK meeting of the year, Richard Goodman of Stanmore won the Under 20 3,000m while Jillian Schwartz of Israel came second in the pole vault.

Competing against older and faster runners, Goodman, 17, did not start his race as favourite. A hamstring injury two weeks beforehand had restricted his preparation to strength work in the gym and two speed sessions in the week before the race.

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