Putin says Zelensky is a 'disgrace to Jews'

The Russian leader also said the Ukrainian president isn't Jewish because his 'Jewish friends' said so


Russian President Vladimir Putin gives a speech at a plenary session of the Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) in Saint Petersburg on June 16, 2023. (Photo by Ramil SITDIKOV / SPUTNIK / AFP) (Photo by RAMIL SITDIKOV/SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images)

Russian President Vladimir Putin has called into question President Volodmyr Zelensky's Jewish heritage by saying that none of his own Jewish friends consider him one of the tribe.

Speaking at the end of last week at an economic forum of Russian leaders in St Petersburg, Putin said: “I have a lot of Jewish friends.

"They say that Zelensky is not Jewish, that he is a disgrace to the Jewish people.”

“This is not a joke and not an attempt at irony, because today neo-Nazis, Hitler’s disciples, have been put on a pedestal as heroes of Ukraine.”

Putin's quotes echo those of Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov last year who said that Zelensky's faith did not stop him from being a Nazi.

He told an Italian broadcaster: “So what if Zelensky is Jewish. The fact does not negate the Nazi elements in Ukraine. I believe that Hitler also had Jewish blood,”

Zelensky's faith has been a recurring theme throughout the conflict, with Russian officials saying that their "Special Operation" in Ukraine was part of a push to "De-Nazify" the country from its Jewish leaders.

In a 2020 interview with the Times of Israel, Zelensky said he grew up in an “ordinary Soviet Jewish family,” which was to say, not very religious, since “religion didn’t exist in the Soviet state as such.”

When running for the Ukrainian presidency in 2019, Zelensky said:“The fact that I am a Jew is about the 20th question among my characteristics.”

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