Moscow: slasher attack at synagogue

From The Scotsman, Jan. 12:

A man armed with a knife wounded several people, including a rabbi, at a synagogue in Moscow yesterday. One Jewish official said the man called out as he burst into the building: “I will kill people, I will kill Jews.”

The chief Moscow prosecutor, Anatoly Zuyev, said that eight men reported wounded, including a United States citizen, an Israeli and a Tajik citizen. The injured rabbi underwent surgery.

The attack at the Chabad Bronnaya synagogue occurred at about 5:30 PM local time, just before evening prayers. “The attacker was shouting words that showed he was motivated by ethnic and religious hatred,” Mr. Zuyev said.

A man identified as Alexander Koptsev, a Moscow resident born in 1985, has been held in connection with the incident. It was not known if the suspect is a member of any anti-Semitic or neo-Nazi groups.

A member of the synagogue staff said the man attacked people in the kitchen before attacking people in offices, where the son of the synagogue’s rabbi, Yitzak Kogan, wrestled the attacker to the ground and held him until police arrived.

News reports said Russia’s top prosecutor, Vladimir Ustinov, was taking control of the investigation.

The stabbing is the latest in a growing series of incidents apparently involving skinheads or racist groups in Russia.

Rights groups have warned that hate groups have grown substantially in recent years, with their anger targeted mainly at foreigners and dark-skinned immigrants from the poorer former Soviet republics of the Caucasus and Central Asia. Many rights groups also say prosecutors routinely downplay hate crimes.

The Russian Orthodox Church, which has made efforts to reach out to Jewish officials in a country that has a history of pogroms and anti-Semitism, condemned the attack. “Law enforcement agencies and authorities and all of society must do everything so that such a thing is not repeated,” said a spokesman.

Borukh Gorin, a spokesman for the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia, said the attack should serve as a message to the Russian government and society to fight racism and anti-Semitism. This was “the latest result of the brazen and practically unpunished propaganda of fascism in this country,” he said.

We have noted how the current re-consolidation of oil and gas resources in state hands in Russia, following the post-Soviet period of private oligarchs, has been concomitant with an anti-Semitic backlash.

  1. Muslims attacked too…
    Invariably, when the heat gets turned up on Jews, it gets turned up on Muslims too—and vice versa. From Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Jan. 23:

    Abd al-Munim, who is a citizen of Qatar and a correspondent for Al-Jazeera television, was beaten by an unidentified attacker in northwest Moscow on 22 January, Interfax reported. Al-Munim received medical assistance. Police are looking for the attacker, who fled by car.