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'Hitler was an absolute evil and Stalin even worse'

Russian Jewish politician jailed for comparing Stalin to Hitler

Court sends Leonid Gozman, who holds Israeli citizenship, to 15 days in prison for 2020 Facebook post

Leonid Gozman, a liberal politician, walks escorted by a police officer in Moscow, Russia, on July 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Alec Sander)
Leonid Gozman, a liberal politician, walks escorted by a police officer in Moscow, Russia, on July 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Alec Sander)

A Moscow court on Tuesday handed a 15-day prison sentence to a liberal Jewish politician who drew parallels between Soviet dictator Josef Stalin’s regime and Nazi Germany.

Leonid Gozman, 72, was sentenced for a 2020 Facebook post, in which he mocked the Russian legislation that banned likening the Soviet Union to Nazi Germany, saying that “it’s wrong to put an equal mark between them — Hitler was an absolute evil and Stalin even worse.”

On Tuesday, Moscow’s Tverskoy District Court ruled that Gozman’s remark violated the law.

Gozman, a vocal critic of the Kremlin’s campaign in Ukraine, left Russia when it started but returned in June in what he has described as a “moral” choice.

The Russian Justice Ministry has listed Gozman, who also holds Israeli citizenship, as a “foreign agent,” a description that carries a strong pejorative meaning and implies additional government scrutiny.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry declined to respond to a request for comment on Gozman’s sentencing.

Leonid Gozman poses for a photo with other members of the new Kremlin-friendly Right Cause party, during the party’s founding congress in Moscow, November 16, 2008. (Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Gozman was briefly detained by police in July after the Russian Interior Ministry issued a warrant for his arrest while investigating a criminal case against him.

He was accused of breaching the law that requires Russian citizens to notify authorities about foreign citizenship or a residency permit. Gozman said he had notified the authorities about his Israeli citizenship but they claimed that he failed to do so within the required time.

The investigation in that case is ongoing and Gozman could be sentenced to a fine or community work if found guilty.

The move against the dual-national Gozman comes as Russian authorities have also cracked down on the operations of the Jewish Agency, the quasi-governmental body which facilitates and encourages Jewish immigration to Israel.

The moves against the organization have raised grave concerns among Russia’s Jewish population, amid speculation that Moscow is making moves against Jerusalem’s interests due to Israel’s limited support for Ukraine, which remains under Russian assault.

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