BELARUSIAN JEWS AGAINST THE RUSSKI VESTNIK (BAJ press service)
Leanid Levin, president of the union of Belarusian Jewish public associations and communities, Eduard Paryzh, chairperson of Association of Jewish Communities in the Republic of Belarus, Yury Dorn, chairperson of Jewish Religious Association in the Republic of Belarus, and Yakaw Basin, president of Religious Association of Communities of Progressive Judaism, addressed Prosecutor General V. Sheiman and chairperson of the Committee for Religious and Ethnic Affairs S. Buko with an open letter. The reason for the letter was the Russian newspaper The Russki Vestnik, which appeared in “Belsayuzdruk” kiosks. According to the authors of the open letter, the newspaper contains “undisguised propaganda of anti-Semitism”. They name the March issue of the newspaper (#5, 2003, article “Iraq and Temple of Solomon”) as one of the examples. The article describes about ostensibly Jewish tradition to use sacrificial blood for ritual purposes.
“Employees of the state network “Belsayuzdruk” state practically unanimously, that they don’t order such a newspaper for sales…”, but “receive it, as they say, on a special order of the top management of the network”, -- says the letter. “These facts convince us, that some of the top managers of the state company are interested in distribution of such kind of editions in Belarus”.
The leaders of Jewish associations demand to ban distribution of The Russki Vestnik newspaper through the state retail network in Belarus. They remind, that deliberate actions to rouse ethnic and religious enmity are punished under Art 130 of the Criminal Code. At the same time, Art 5 of the Law on Press and other Mass Media prohibits to use mass media for these purposes.
The authors will wait for reply on their inquiry for 1 month. They promise to address the Council of Ministers and the Presidential Administration, if they don’t get any proper reaction.
However, Yury Dorn told the BAJ press service, he is almost sure that they will see the reaction of the authorities, because the authors of the letter represent practically all Jewish population in the country. “The situation will make the authorities do everything possible to correct it. Moreover, that The Russki Vestnik case has lasted for quite a long time”. In the fall of 2002 Yury Dorn sent several articles from this newspaper to the Committee for Religious and Ethnic Affairs. The Committee recognized those articles as rousing religious and ethnic enmity, and sent its resume to the Ministry of Information of the Republic of Belarus. In its turn, the Ministry of Information made an official ruling to the state retail network to stop selling the newspaper. They followed the ruling for some time, but in the end of February “The Russki Vestnik” appeared in the kiosks again.
BAJ press service