Congressional Record Statements

United States
of America

Vol. 0 Washington, Wednesday, March 17, 1999 No. 0



Wednesday, March 17, 1999

Hon. Ben Nighthorse Campbell
of Colorado

Mr. CAMPBELL (for himself, Mr. LAUTENBERG, Mr. SMITH of Oregon, Mr. ABRAHAM, Mr. BROWNBACK, Mr. REID, Mr. BURNS, Mr. TORRICELLI, Mr. CLELAND, and Mr. FEINGOLD) submitted the following concurrent resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations: S. Con. Res. 19 Whereas the world has seen in the 20th century the disastrous results of ethnic, religious, and racial intolerance; Whereas the Government of the Russian Federation is on record, through obligations freely accepted as a participating state of the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), as pledging to ``clearly and equivocally condemn totalitarianism, racial and ethnic hatred, anti-Semitism, xenophobia and discrimination against anyone......''; Whereas at two public rallies in October 1998, Communist Party member of the Duma, Albert Makashov, blamed ``the Yids'' for Russia's current problems; Whereas in November 1998, attempts by members of the Russian Duma to formally censure Albert Makashov were blocked by members of the Communist Party; Whereas in December 1998, the chairman of the Duma Security Committee and Communist Party member, Viktor Ilyukhin, blamed President Yeltsin's ``Jewish entourage'' for alleged ``genocide against the Russian people''; Whereas in response to the public outcry over the above-noted anti-Semitic statements, Communist Party chairman Gennadi Zyuganov claimed in December 1998 that such statements were a result of ``confusion'' between Zionism and ``the Jewish question''; and Whereas during the Soviet era, the Communist Party leadership regularly used ``anti-Zionist campaigns'' as an excuse to persecute and discriminate against Jews in the Soviet Union: Now, therefore, be it Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), That Congress-- (1) condemns anti-Semitic statements made by members of the Russian Duma; (2) commends actions taken by members of the Russian Duma to condemn anti-Semitic statements made by Duma members; (3) commends President Yeltsin and other members of the Russian Government for condemning anti-Semitic statements made by Duma members; and (4) reiterates its firm belief that peace and justice cannot be achieved as long as governments and legislatures promote policies based upon anti-Semitism, racism, and xenophobia. Mr. CAMPBELL. Mr. President, although Communism released its oppressive grip on the people of Russia nearly ten years ago, its fingerprints of racism and ethnic intolerance persist. Today, I call the attention of my colleagues to the troubling surge of anti-Semitic rhetoric by the Russian Duma's Communist Party leaders who have sought to place the blame of Russia's social and economic ills on its Jewish community. As the new co-chairman of the Helsinki Commission, I am submitting a resolution to help address this disturbing situation. This [Page: S2870] GPO's PDF resolution is a companion to H.Con.Res. 37 which was introduced by Congressman CHRIS SMITH, Chairman of the Helsinki Commission. In October of last year, General Albert Makashov, Communist Party member of the Duma, insulted and threatened the Jewish community with physical retribution for what he asserted as being a cause of Russia's current instabilities. When other members of the Duma sought to censure General Makashov for his comments, Communist party members blocked the measure on two different occasions and the Duma failed to condemn his statements. Then in December, Viktor Ilyukhin, Communist Party member and Chairman of the Security Committee, asserted that the Jews were committing `genocide against the Russian people'. He further referenced the influence of President Yeltsin's `Jewish entourage' and called for ethnic quotas in these posts to counter Jewish influence. It is imperative that the Russian Duma be sent a clear message that these expressions of racism and ethnic hatred will not go unnoticed by the U.S. Today, I am joined by Senators LAUTENBERG, ABRAHAM, SMITH of Oregon, BROWNBACK, TORRICELLI, REID, CLELAND, BURNS, and FEINGOLD in submitting a resolution which condemns these anti-Semitic statements made by the Russian Duma. It likewise commends the actions taken by those in the Duma who sought to censure the Communist Party leaders and commends President Yeltsin for his forceful rejection of the statements. This resolution also reiterates the firm belief of the Congress that peace and justice cannot be achieved as long as governments and legislatures promote policies based upon anti-Semitism, racism, and xenophobia. In light of Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov's upcoming visit to the U.S., this resolution is especially timely. I urge my colleagues to support this important resolution which underscores the U.S. commitment to religious freedom and human rights . Mr. LAUTENBERG. Mr. President, I rise today in support of the resolution condemning anti-Semitic statements by Russian political leaders and commending President Yeltsin and others for raising their voices against such hateful speech. Anti-Semitism in Russia is not a new phenomenon. Throughout Russia's history, Jews have often been singled out for persecution during times of crisis. It happened in the seventeenth century, when a reign of terror was unleashed against Jews in Eastern and Central Europe, and it happened in the pogroms of World War I, when entire Jewish communities were annihilated. In short, when there's trouble in Russia, Jews are usually the first to be blamed. Anti-Semitic comments coming from high-ranking officials in Russia in recent months are particularly worrisome. They come at a time when Russia should be overcoming its troubled past and rejoining the world community by honoring freedom of religion, free speech and other human rights . The anti-Semitic statements made by prominent Russian officials are well known by now: Last November, retired General Albert Makashov blamed the country's economic crisis on ``yids.'' In an open letter, Gennady Zyuganov, the Communist Party chief, voiced his belief of a Zionist conspiracy to seize power in Russia. Another top Communist lawmaker, Viktor Ilyukhin, accused Jews of waging ``genocide'' in the country. Officials in the Russian government have criticized these statements. Yet not so long ago, Russian President Yeltsin went ahead with a summit with his counterpart, Belarus president Alexander Lukashenko, who himself blamed Jewish financiers and political reformers ``for the creation of the criminal economy.'' Alexander Lebed, a top contender for the presidential post in the 2000 elections, has also made negative remarks about several religious groups. We in Congress have asked senior Administration officials to lodge our protests against the anti-Semitic comments made by Russian leaders. During her recent trip to Moscow, Secretary Albright did exactly that and received assurances that anti-Semitism has no place in Russia. The Administration will have another opportunity to voice our concern when Vice President GORE receives Russia's Prime Minister Primakov next week. I will closely be watching events in Russia to ensure the government is in compliance with its international human rights commitments. There has been concern that the country's religion law, passed in 1997, cedes too much authority to local officials. The omnibus appropriations bill for 1999 directs a cutoff of Freedom Support Act aid to Russia unless the President determines and certifies that Moscow hasn't implemented statutes, regulations or executive orders that would discriminate against religious groups. That certification must be made by late April. I hope certification, as well as the International Religious Freedom Act, passed last year, will be strong incentives for Russian leaders to reverse a troubling anti-democratic trend. As you know, in 1989 I authored legislation making it easier for Jews and members of other persecuted religious groups in the former Soviet Union to obtain refugee status in the United States. I introduced this law because I felt deeply that religious freedom was a basic human right, which was anathema under the Soviet system of government. Recent events in Russia convince me my legislation remains very necessary and I will be asking my colleagues to support an extension again this year. During a trip to Poland last year, President Kwasniewski and Prime Minister Buzek reached out to the Jewish community to help bridge the gap between Poles and Jews. This is a difficult and long-term process, but at least leaders across the political spectrum are making a real effort to heal wounds and create a more welcome climate for Jews in Poland. I welcome President Yeltsin's rejections of anti-Semitism and I hope more members of the Duma will speak out in this manner. I want also to pay tribute to Parliamentarian Galina Starovoitova, a steadfast supporter of human rights and democracy, who was shot dead last November in the entry way of her St. Petersburg apartment building. Ms. Starovoitova, a non-Jew, was a leading voice in condemning anti-Semitism in Russian society. Her courage will be sorely missed. Congress understands Russia cannot be a great democracy until it makes progress in human rights , and doesn't revert to past practices. Russia's leaders must come to the same conclusion. We must all work together to reach a common goal--helping Russia integrate into the international community. Mr. President, I urge all my colleagues to support this timely resolution.


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