Kremlin moves to shut Moscow branch of Jewish Agency in ‘deplorable and offensive’ move

The action against the agency that oversees immigration to Israel is seen as retaliation for Jerusalem’s stance on Ukraine


Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) speaks with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett during their meeting, in Sochi, on October 22, 2021. (Photo by Yevgeny BIYATOV / Sputnik / AFP) (Photo by YEVGENY BIYATOV/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images)

The Russian government is using legal channels to shut down the Jewish Agency’s offices in the country, a move that has been condemned by Jerusalem as “deplorable and offensive”.

State media reported that Putin’s government filed papers with the Basmanny district court, Moscow, to silence the Jerusalem-based organisation. The case will be heard on 28 July.

Ekaterina Buravtsova, a spokesperson for the court in Moscow, told Interfax news agency that the request was made after “legal violations”. She did not provide further details.

Russian authorities suspected the Jewish Agency of illegally collecting data on Russian citizens, according to The Jerusalem Post

Israeli Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai said: "Russian Jews will not be held hostage by the war in Ukraine. The attempt to punish the Jewish Agency for Israel's stance on the war is deplorable and offensive.”

Israel has strongly criticised Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In April, Israel’s new prime minister, Yair Lapid, angered the Kremlin by accusing Russia of war crimes in his former capacity as Foreign Minister.

The Jewish Agency sought to downplay concerns in Israel and around the world, saying that this was simply a “preliminary hearing” a “continuation of the legal process” that was already underway.

“As we have previously stated, we are not making any comment during the course of the legal proceedings,” a spokesperson added.

The organisation reportedly attempted to deal with the issue quietly by itself, but has since asked the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs to assist.

The Jewish Agency, the largest Jewish non-profit organisation in the world, assists and facilitates Jewish immigration to Israel.

Thousands of Jewish Ukrainians have fled the county to make new homes in the Jewish state since the Russian invasion in February.

A statement carried by the Russian state’s RIA news outlet confirmed: “The court received a lawsuit filed by the main department of the Ministry of Justice in Moscow requesting the dissolution of the Jewish Agency.”

According to Israeli government data, around 7,000 Jews emigrated from Russia to Israel last year.

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive