Russian President Vladimir Putin has invited to Russia Jews who do not feel safe in European countries at the moment.
On Tuesday [19 January], during a meeting with representatives of the European Jewish Congress, its President Vyacheslav Kantor [Viatcheslav Moshe Kantor] said that the position of the Jews in today’s Europe is “the worst since the end of World War II”.
According to Kantor, anti-Semitism in Europe is growing, and “Jews are fleeing from Europe, which was safe only yesterday”.
“Let them come to us. In the Soviet Union they used to go away, now let them come back,” Putin said with a smile.
The Russian president’s proposal sparked a smile on the faces of the audience, and Kantor said: “This is a genuinely new fundamental idea. We will definitely discuss it at the Congress. And I hope we will support you.”
Commenting on Kantor’s statement that the position of the Jews in Europe is currently the worst since World War II, Putin disagreed. “I do not think that it is as bad as you say,” Putin said.
However, he said he was familiar with the problem and added: “I’ve seen TV reports; people there are now afraid to wear kippas in public places, they are even trying to hide their ethnic origins.”
Speaking about cooperation with representatives of the organisation, Putin stressed that the Russian authorities regard the European Jewish Congress “as Russia’s natural ally in the fight against xenophobia, anti-Semitism and various forms of extreme views, and as direct allies in preserving the memory of the Second World War and Holocaust.”
“We hope that we will be able to establish an intensive dialogue with the European Jewish organisations,” Putin said.
[Putin also thanked the organisation for fighting against “heroisation of Nazism”, RIA Novosti (part of the state-owned International News Agency Rossiya Segodnya) reported. “They do this openly, clearly, without hesitation and very efficiently,” Putin said.]