Russia updated its sanctions list on Saturday, and among the many Jews who are now banned from entering Russia are three Chabad rabbis, possibly in retaliation for the organisation’s decades-long attempt to recover artefacts and texts taken from Chabad by the Soviets.
The updated list of 963 Americans, first reported by Axios, includes US political figures from all political parties, government officials, tech executives, journalists, and even the late senators John McCain who passed away in 2018, and Orrin Hatch who passed away last month.
The sanctions are in retaliation to US sanctions for Russia's unprovoked and ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
Among the 963 Americans on the sanctions list are three leaders of Chabad’s umbrella body, Agudas Chassidei Chabad:
Rabbi Abraham Shemtov, Chairman of the Board of Agudas Chassidei Chabad
Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, Secretary of Agudas Chassidei Chabad
Rabbi Shlomo Cunin, Member of the Board of Agudas Chassidei Chabad
Chabad says that they were likely included because the organisation has long attempted to recover its collection of Jewish and Chassidic books and manuscripts that were seized by the Soviet Union.
Last week, a lawyer for Chabad said that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had reinvigorated efforts to recover the sacred materials, which are known as the Shneerson library and archive, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports.
This is due to the fact that the US efforts to seize Russian assets in the wake of the invasion is seen to strengthen Chabad’s own attempts to seize Russian wealth to pay off court fines the country owes for not returning the texts totalling over $165 million.
Among other prominent American Jews sanctioned by Russia was Jewish director and writer Rob Reiner, who is believed to have been included for his work on “Investigate Russia" an American website cataloguing Russia's links to the 2016 US presidential election.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement accompanying the updated sanctions list: “In the context of response to the constantly imposed anti-Russian sanctions by the United States and in connection with incoming requests about the personal composition of our national ‘stop list’, the Russian Foreign Ministry publishes a list of American citizens who are permanently banned from entering the Russian Federation.
“We emphasise that the hostile actions taken by Washington, which boomerang against the United States itself, will continue to receive a proper rebuff.”