Former Moscow Chief Rabbi branded 'foreign agent' by Russia

Pinchas Goldschmidt fled Russia last year after pressure to support Putin's war


FRANKFURT AM MAIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 26: Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the Conference of European Rabbis, during the ordination ceremony of Nosson Kaplan, Benjamin Kochan, Jochanan Guggenheim, to become Orthodox rabbis at the Westend synagogue, on September 26, 2016 in Frankfurt, Germany. The three men, who completed their rabbinical studies at the Rabbiner Seminar zu Berlin and are the first Orthodox rabbis to be ordained in Frankfurt since World War II, will serve Jewish communities across Germany. (Photo by Hannelore Foerster/Getty Images)

The former Chief Rabbi of Moscow and one of Russia's most senior Jewish leaders has been branded a 'foreign agent' by security forces in the country.

On Saturday, Russia announced that Pinchas Goldschmidt had officially been designated a "foreign agent". The status allows the government more powers of surveillance and requires the person given that designation to disclose it in any public writing or speeches.

Last year, the Russian government extended the definition of foreign agent to include anyone they deemed to be "influenced" by anyone outside Russia.

Reacting to his new status, Rabbi Goldschmidt said: “Russia has turned for the worse,”

“This is the first time since the beginning of the war that a religious leader has been declared a foreign agent and defined by the Russian government as a hostile threat.”

“It’s very likely that this will mean the start of a new antisemitic campaign against the Jewish community in Russia. I’ve previously called on the local Jewish community to leave the country before it’s too late.”

Pinchas Goldschmidt, who was the Chief Rabbi of Moscow since 1993, left his home in Moscow in the wake of Putin's invasion after being pressured to support the war.

He told members of the House of Lords last year that Russia had overnight transformed “from an authoritarian country to a semi-totalitarian country”.

Goldschmidt, who now lives in Israel, grew up in Switzerland, and moved to the USSR in 1989 and worked to rebuild the Jewish community after the fall of communism.

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