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Seven Reasons Why Russia Wants to Keep Ukraine All to Itself

by Allison Jackson, Global Post The protests sweeping across Ukraine began last November when the government ditched a promised trade and political deal with the European Union in favor of closer ties with its old Soviet master. Critics say Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych chose his allegiances under considerable pressure from Russia. EU officials have accused […]

Hungarian rabbi finds 103 stolen Torah scrolls, probably taken during Holocaust

BUDAPEST – A Hungarian rabbi said on Tuesday he had uncovered 103 Torah scrolls stolen from Hungarian Jews during World War Two and stashed in a Russian library, adding he planned to restore and return them to the Jewish community. Slomo Koves, chief rabbi of the Unified Hungarian Jewish Congregation, said he had found the scrolls while […]

Russian Writers Call for Free Speech as Pasternak’s Birthday Celebrated

by D. Garrison Golubock and Olga Chetina Feb. 11 marked the 124th anniversary of the birth of Boris Pasternak, the famed Soviet author best known for his book “Doctor Zhivago,” which was published abroad after being banned in the Soviet Union. Pasternak’s birthday was celebrated with great fanfare by Russia’s literati, including a new exhibit dedicated to the author and a reading of his work at the […]

Russia Hate on Rise — But Not Against Jews

Bigotry and Violence Aimed at Gay Men and Central Asians by Paul Berger Just three weeks before the start of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, two dozen Russian reporters, photographers and cameramen squeezed into the spartan first-floor office of the Independent Press Center in Moscow, a five-minute walk from the capital’s main Orthodox church, […]

‘I know tomorrow will be my last day': Uncovering Soviet Jewry’s Holocaust experience

by Smadar Shir For years the Soviet Jewry’s Holocaust was a forbidden secret. Now, through letters found in archives, Yad Vashem is working to make the voices silenced behind the Iron Curtain heard   “To my dear brother, our city Priluki was taken over quite suddenly and very quickly by the German occupiers. My brother […]

Ban Ki-moon condemns persecution of gay people in Russia

The United Nations secretary-general has used a speech ahead of the Winter Olympics in Sochi to condemn attacks on the LGBT community, amid growing criticism of Russia’s so-called “gay propaganda” laws. Ban Ki-moon, addressing the IOC before Friday’s opening ceremony, highlighted the fact that the theme of the UN’s human rights day last December was “sport comes out against homophobia”. […]

Russia: Sochi Games Highlight Homophobic Violence

Human Rights Watch (Moscow) – The Russian authorities need to address a deteriorating situation of widespread and concerted abuse against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people and activists. The authorities’ failure to act and some officials’ homophobic comments expose LGBT people to further harassment and violence and embolden the attackers, Human Rights Watch research found. As […]

Russian Orthodox Church gets increasingly political – experts

by Lyudmila Alexandrova MOSCOW, February 03. /ITAR-TASS/. The Russian Orthodox Church has become more politicized, say experts as they look back on the five years the ROC has been led by its current head, the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Kirill. Although views of Kirill’s activities in that capacity differ, nobody calls in question […]

RUSSIA: Two “extremism” bans overturned – but bans, fines continue

By Victoria Arnold, Forum 18 News Service, and Geraldine Fagan, Forum 18 News Service A Krasnodar court has overturned a ban on a popular Russian translation of the Koran (though the court has still not issued the written ruling), while a Tver court has overturned a ban in Russia on the main Jehovah’s Witness international […]

American Jews provide social services in former Soviet Union

It’s cold in the former Soviet Union. With the temperature in Moscow standing at -25 degrees Celsius, many elderly Jews cannot even afford fuel to heat their homes. Between the harsh weather and the equally harsh economic climate, many are suffering, according to the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. The JDC has just launched its […]