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U.S. House condemns anti-Semitism in Russian Duma

WASHINGTON – Today the U.S. House of Representatives passed unanimously a resolution (H.Con.Res. 37) condemning anti-Semitic remarks made by members of the Russian Duma, commending actions taken by fair-minded members of the Duma to censure the purveyors of anti-Semitism within their ranks and commending Russian President Boris Yeltsin and other members of the Russian Government for rejecting such statements.

Introduced by Helsinki Commission Chairman Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ), the resolution was co-sponsored by all Representatives on the Commission. A companion resolution , S.Con.Res. 19, has been introduced in the U.S. Senate by Commission Co-Chairman Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-CO) and nine co-sponsors.

“The Congress must adamantly condemn these anti-Semitic statements made by members of the Duma—and any other anti-Semitic statements or activities that arise in Russia,” said Chairman Smith. “We understand that the Vice President intends to raise the issue of anti-Semitism with Mr. Primakov when they ultimately meet. Passage of this resolution demonstrates the solidarity of Congress with the Administration on this issue, as well as fair-minded members of the Russian Duma in the constant struggle against bigotry and racism.”

“To remain silent is to condone,” said Commission Ranking Member Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-MD). “We owe it to the many Russians—Jewish and non-Jewish—who are distressed and disgusted by such intolerant statements emanating from their national legislature, to add our voices of protest to theirs.”

Since the fall of the ruble last August and associated economic problems in Russia, there has been a rise in anti-Semitic statements made by Russian political figures. In December of 1998, Chairman of the Duma Security Committee Viktor Ilyukhin stated that President Yeltsin’s “Jewish entourage” was responsible for alleged genocide against the Russian people. At public rallies, retired Army General and Duma Member General Albert Makashov has blamed “the Yids” and other “reformers and democrats” for Russia’s problems and threatened to “send them to the other world.”

On March 2, The New York Times quoted General Makashov as saying, among other things, “We will remain anti-Semites, and we must triumph.”

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