Israel slams Putin adviser for claim Ukraine to move Jews into ‘cleansed’ area

Foreign Ministry describes comments by Sergey Glazyev regarding Ukraine’s new Jewish president as ‘conspiratorial and anti-Semitic’

Raphael Ahren is a former diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

In this file photo, Feb. 18, 2004, presidential candidate Sergey Glazyev speaks at a Russian TV channel 1 studio in Moscow. (AP Photo/Sergey Ponomarev, File)
In this file photo, Feb. 18, 2004, presidential candidate Sergey Glazyev speaks at a Russian TV channel 1 studio in Moscow. (AP Photo/Sergey Ponomarev, File)

Israel on Tuesday criticized an article authored by a close adviser to Russian President Vladimir Putin, which claimed that Ukraine’s president may want to move Israeli Jews into parts of his country, as “conspiratorial and anti-Semitic.”

Jerusalem was “puzzled” by Sergey Glazyev’s article, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon told The Times of Israel.

“The conspiratorial and anti-Semitic style of his words is inappropriate and does not reflect the positive nature of Russia’s relations with Israel,” Nahshon added.

In the lengthy article posted on the nationalist blog Zavtra (Tomorrow) and on his personal website, Glazyev describes new Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who is Jewish, as a puppet of the US administration, which is doing the bidding of the Israeli right.

“I don’t rule out, for example, the possibility of a mass movement into southeast Ukrainian land ‘cleansed’ of the Russian population by the inhabitants of the Promised Land tired of permanent war in the Middle East,” Glazyev wrote.

Glazyev, who was born to a Russian father and a Ukrainian mother in an area of the Soviet Union that today is part of Ukraine, is one of Putin’s closest economic advisers. He is a former legislator and unsuccessfully ran for president in 2004.

Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokesperson, said Tuesday that Glazyev was expressing his “personal opinion” that may be “incorrect,” stressing that the president had nothing to do with.

Later that day, Glazyev said his statement did not refer to Jews only but to all residents of the area, including Palestinians, Syrians, Lebanese and Jordanians, all of whom live in volatile areas.

His article appeared on the same day that Zelensky met with Ukrainian Chabad rabbis.

Vlodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s president-elect, meets with rabbis in Kiev in early May 2019. (Courtesy of the Jewish Community of Dnepro/ via JTA)

On Tuesday, Zelensky met with Israel’s Ukrainian-born Environmental Affairs Minister Ze’ev Elkin, in what marked the comedian-turned-politician’s first meeting with an Israeli government figure. Officials in Jerusalem described the meeting as very positive, saying Zelensky was very well-disposed toward the Jewish state.

When he takes office on May 30, Ukraine will be the only country besides Israel that has both a Jewish president and a Jewish prime minister (Volodymyr Groysman).

The Jewish ancestry of Zelensky, a comedian and TV star, did not play a role in this year’s presidential race.

“It is nothing short of stunning that in any country in the world, certainly in a country in Europe, given the history here, given the history of eastern Europe, that a candidate would never have his Jewishness raised as an issue in the campaign,” US Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating Anti-Semitism Elan Carr said Monday at the Kyiv Jewish Forum in Ukraine.

Most Popular
read more: