U.S. Department of State
Statement by Philip T. Reeker, Deputy Spokesman
Russia: Recent Acts of Intolerance and Anti-Semitism
The United States condemns recent incidents of religious intolerance in Russia. On September 17, masked extremists stormed into a Jewish Sunday school in Ryazan, vandalized it, and shouted anti-Semitic slogans at terrified teachers and children. These extremists later attacked the principal of the school that provided this space and warned her not to rent to Jewish organizations.
In Volgograd, on August 20, extremists disrupted separate gatherings of members of Jehovah's Witness and the Church of Latter Day Saints. In both cases, worshippers were beaten. American missionaries from the Church of Latter Day Saints were also threatened.
The United States notes President Putin's recent statements on religious tolerance, which highlighted the important role of Jews and others in the fabric of contemporary Russian life. However, the United States is troubled by recent anti-Semitic remarks published in the Russian press in recent weeks by the general director of the Analytical Information Agency of the Presidential Administration Aleksandr Ignatov and by apparent Kremlin support for the re-election of Krasnodar Governor Nikolai Kondratenko, who has repeatedly made anti-Semitic statements. Such actions undermine efforts to create a tolerant society under the rule of law.
We call on the Russian Government to conduct full and thorough investigations of these incidents on an urgent basis. Those responsible should be prosecuted to the fullest extent under Russian law. We further call on the Russian Government to condemn these recent manifestations of anti-Semitism and intolerance. All Russian citizens must be afforded the greatest possible protection of their religious and hard-won democratic freedoms.
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