Two crimes based on ethnic hostility have been committed in Russia on the threshold of the Jewish holiday Rosh Hashana (the Jewish New Year). A group of unidentified criminals stoned the building of a Jewish synagogue in the city of Khabarovsk (the Far East of Russia). Another synagogue in the city of Astrakhan was attacked twice yesterday. No one has been injured in the attacks, but the buildings were damaged. The police arrived at the scene quickly, although they failed to detain any of the attackers. The prosecutors in both Khabarovsk and Astrakhan do not hurry to institute criminal proceedings on the fact of the crimes, although spokespeople for the Jewish communities are certain that the crimes have been committed by extremists who intended to spoil the holiday.
A group of men threw stones at the synagogue in the center of Astrakhan on Thursday night. Several windows were broken as a result of the attack. The hooligans returned to the building several hours later. They showered the building with stones again and threw a can of petrol inside the synagogue. Fortunately, it was possible to immediately put out the fire.
A similar incident took place on Thursday night in Khabarovsk, when a group of four men stoned the synagogue situated in the city center. The assailants broke several windows and the glass door of the building. The Rabbi of the Far East of Russia said that the attack had been initiated by a group of skinheads. Khabarovsk police officers said, however, that the eyewitnesses did not hear the attackers screaming anti-Semite slogans.
The synagogue in Khabarovsk has been attacked for the third time during the recent four months. Someone left anti-Semite writings on the fence of the synagogue on June 20: “Death to Jews!” and “Holocaust 88.” There was fascist swastika seen underneath those writings. Most likely, the criminals realized that they would not be able to cause damage to the synagogue itself because of the 24-hour guarding of the building. They decided to desecrate just the fence instead. The authorities decided to paint over the writings and not to file a criminal case.
Another attack against the Khabarovsk synagogue occurred a month later, in August, when a group of unidentified men threw a firebomb at the building. The bomb did not cause any damage to the synagogue: it fell down on the porch, but the fire did not break out because of rainy weather.
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov