Russian President Vladimir Putin has suggested that Jews or other minorities might have been behind attempts to interfere in the 2016 American presidential elections.
In an interview with NBC News to air this weekend and of which excerpts were released on Saturday, Putin denied charges by U.S. intelligence services that he ordered meddling in the elections.
The Russian president said the 13 Russian nationals and three Russian companies charged by special counsel Robert Mueller last month “do not represent the interests of the Russian state.”
“Maybe they’re not even Russians,” he said. “Maybe they’re Ukrainians, Tatars, Jews, just with Russian citizenship. Even that needs to be checked. Maybe they have dual citizenship. Or maybe a green card. Maybe it was the Americans who paid them for this work. How do you know? I don’t know.”
The American Jewish Committee (AJC) condemned Putin’s remarks.
“President Putin suggesting that Russian Federation minorities, be they Ukrainian, Tatar, or Jewish, were behind U.S. election is eerily reminiscent of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. He should clarify his comments at the earliest opportunity,” the AJC tweeted.
MK Ksenia Svetlova (Zionist Union) also tweeted about Putin’s remarks, linking them to the new controversial Polish law that would make it a crime to blame Poland for the Holocaust.
“We r quite familiar with the oldies ‘Maybe Jews run the world, maybe Jews use blood for their rituals, maybe Jews had slaughtered Jews in Poland’. Now comes the latest hit ‘maybe Jews meddled in US elections’. Our government has to condemn strongly this statement #putin #jews,” she tweeted.
Last year, the deputy speaker of the Russian parliament, Peter Tolstoy, made headlines when he intimated that Jews are using their positions in the media and government to continue the work of ancestors who “pulled down our churches.”
The Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia, one of the largest Jewish groups in the country, deemed Tolstoy's statements anti-Semitic.
Despite his latest comments, Putin is widely credited with cracking down on anti-Semitism and facilitating unprecedented growth among Russian Jewish communities.