The Jewish Week writes in an unsigned editorial:
… Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to consolidate his power and snuff out feeble flickers of democracy. Dissent is dangerous, a fact that may underlie the bizarre case of former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko, fatally poisoned in London with a rare radioactive substance, only weeks after the murder of a fearless journalist who wrote of trauma in Chechnya. [And now, another Putin critic has apparently been poisoned.] And with it, ultra-nationalism is on the rise, inevitably producing a rise in anti-Semitic incidents.
Right now, the primary targets of the ascendant ultra-nationalists are people from Central Asia and the Caucusus, but it would be folly to assume that Russia’s Jews will somehow be immune.
A Russia swimming in oil and gas profits wants to play a bigger role on the world scene, but more often than not, Putin’s foreign policy contributes to conflict and instability, not peace.
Russia, a major supplier of nuclear technology to Tehran, continues to thwart international efforts to slow that country’s quest for nuclear weapons. The surface-to-air missiles Russia is sending to Iran might someday be used to shoot down American or Israeli planes seeking to achieve what diplomacy failed to do.
A battered, beset Bush administration has been too willing to ignore Russia’s descent from democracy and its increasingly disruptive role on the international scene. That needs to change — for the sake of U.S. interests around the world and for the minorities that will inevitably suffer if Russia returns to the traditionally toxic mix of authoritarian rule and ultra-nationalism.
Only a handful of Jewish groups — led by NCSJ, a human rights group dealing with the former Soviet Union — are closely following ominous developments in Russia. That, too, needs to change if we are to protect a large and endangered Russian Jewish community that could be standing at the brink of a new dark age.
And the religious group that gives Vladimir Putin diplomatic and moral cover? Chabad, the very same group of dancing rabbis and cholent eaters so many of you love.