Neo-Nazis firebombed a synagogue near Moscow Tuesday less than 24 hours after members of the banned group were sentenced to jail. No one was hurt in the midnight firebombing of the Darchei Shalom synagogue, whose walls sustained damage.
Police believe the attack was an anti-Semitic response to the sentencing of members of the banned neo-Nazi National-Socialist Society, the European Jewish Press reported.
A Russian court sentenced members to prison terms of up to 10 years for 27 hate killings, attempted murders and a plot to blow up a electricity power plant. The defendants entered the court while yelling out anti-Semitic and neo-Nazi chants.
Russia’s chief rabbi Adolf Shaevich responded to the attack, “We have a paradox now. There are many more believers in the country than before, but the spiritual and moral climate has not improved in any way. It is very sad when young people do such things. There could have been people inside, there might have been victims.”
Two teenagers are suspected of having attacked the synagogue.
The Federation of Russia’s Jewish Communities called on law enforcement bodies to view the incident not simply as hooliganism but as an attempt to ignite inter-ethnic hatred.
“Such incidents make it clear that crimes committed on national or religious grounds are propaganda in action. We are concerned by the fact that the Moscow authorities qualify such acts as hooliganism,” claims the organization’s statement as quoted by RIA Novosti. “In any case, it is an act looking to provoke religious hatred. The aim of such acts is to intimidate people, to weaken the eagerness of society to fight nationalism and extremism.”