Jews backed Putin, says Russian Chief

By Heather Jacobsohn, March 8, 2012
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The Chief Rabbi of Russia, Berel Lazar, believes that most Jews voted for Vladimir Putin in the Russian election this week.

In the wake of Sunday's vote, in which Mr Putin won his third term as President after spending the past four years as Prime Minister, Rabbi Lazar said that Mr Putin has a good record of fighting antisemitism and returning synagogues back to the community.

Rabbi Lazar, who is head of Russia's Chabad-Lubavitch population, said: "People are happy and believe that Putin was the best for the future of the Jewish community in this country."

Rabbi Lazar acknowledged there were some Jews involved in the demonstrations against Mr Putin and who supported other candidates.

However, he called into question the motives of those protesters, arguing that "nobody could say that anything was wrong, so I think that a lot of the young people that didn't vote for Putin didn't have anything against him. It was more that they want something happening, some excitement."

Other Jewish community leaders are reluctant to speculate on how members of their community voted.

Spokesman for the Russian Jewish Congress Mikhail Savin said that statements concerning Jewish support for one particular candidate "don't have any sociological confirmation because there were no opinion polls on this topic. These polls are hardly possible; the Russian Jewish organisations prefer not to interfere in politics."

Meanwhile, a prominent Russia analyst told Ha'artez this week that Mr Putin was good for Israel. "It has always been important for him to maintain good ties with Israel," said Stanislav Belkovsky, director of Russia's National Strategy Institute. "Even if another leader were to replace Putin, he would be loyal to Israel because these days Muslim immigration is a bigger problem for Russia than antisemitism."

Last updated: 1:32pm, March 8 2012