A Russian Chabad rabbi was gunned down Wednesday night near his home in what police speculated was an anti-Semitic attack.
Artur (Ovadia) Isakov, 40, the chief rabbi of Derbent, in the Republic of Dagestan, was taken to the hospital in serious condition, according to RIA Novosti, the Russian state news agency.
Initial reports indicated that Isakov was returning from performing ritual slaughter for kosher meat when the gunman opened fire on him. Russia’s Investigative Committee said in a statement that Isakov’s overt Jewish identity “is among the possible motives investigators are considering for the attack.”
Ramazan Abdulatipov, the acting head of Dagestan, a majority Muslim territory bordering Azerbaijan, condemned the attack, blaming it on “extremists and terrorists,” the Russian state news agency reported.
However, Israel’s Foreign Ministry said it suspected the shooting was a criminal incident rather than an anti-Semitic attack, Army Radio reported.
Chief Rabbi of Russia Berel Lazar chartered a plane to transport Isakov to Israel as soon as his condition becomes stable enough to permit travel, Israel Radio reported.