The chief rabbi of Omsk in southern Siberia, Asher Krichevsky, was ordered deported by Russian officials, according to Russian media reports.
Krichevsky, 36, was told Tuesday that he and his family — a wife and six children — have 15 days to leave Russia. The rabbi, who has Israeli citizenship, has worked in Russia as a Chabad emissary for 13 years.
The Federal Migration Service has accused Krichevsky of “illegal trading of alcohol,” Kommersant-Siberia reported Tuesday, but Krichevsky told the newspaper that he has not been told why he is losing his residency permit.
Local news organizations also reported that Krichevsky is under suspicion of spying for Israel, while others believe the decision is politically motivated.
Last month, Krichevsky was fined 2,000 rubles, or about $50, for selling kosher wine from the Chabad House without a liquor license, Kommersant reported.
Omsk Jewish leaders plan to appeal the deportation to Russian President Vladimir Putin, calling Krichevsky “an absolutely apolitical individual,” according to Kommersant.
The newspaper reported, however, that the rabbi may have made anti-government comments in private conversations and that the deportation may be intended to send a message to other religious leaders.
The rabbi has 10 days to appeal the decision.
The Times of Israel covers one of the most complicated, and contentious, parts of the world. Determined to keep readers fully informed and enable them to form and flesh out their own opinions, The Times of Israel has gradually established itself as the leading source of independent and fair-minded journalism on Israel, the region and the Jewish world.
We've achieved this by investing ever-greater resources in our journalism while keeping all of the content on our site free.
Unlike many other news sites, we have not put up a paywall. But we would like to invite readers who can afford to do so, and for whom The Times of Israel has become important, to help support our journalism by joining The Times of Israel Community. Join now and for as little as $6 a month you can both help ensure our ongoing investment in quality journalism, and enjoy special status and benefits as a Times of Israel Community member.