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Prosecutors Rule Paper's Use of Word 'Zhid' Is Legal

Published: May 31, 2005 (Issue # 1074)


The City Prosecutor's Office has again refused to open a criminal case for inciting ethnic or religious intolerance over anti-Semitic articles printed in two city newspapers, Za Russkoye Delo and Rus Pravoslavnaya.

In a written explanation of the refusal, deputy city prosecutor Alexander Korsunov declared that the derogatory term "zhid," or Yid, does not denote adherents of a specific religion.

"The term 'zhid' [mentioned in the article] and its grammatical modifications are not officially recognized as ... belonging to a certain religion," he wrote.

"The pretentious attitude of the author of the article and editors-in-chief to Judaic dogma, introduced in the article 'Jewish Happiness, Russian Tears," is based on an analysis of the officially published book 'Kitzur Shulchan Arukh,' which contains instructions of the rules of behavior for people of Jewish nationality towards non-Jews," Korsunov wrote.

The book is an ancient Jewish text.

"An appeal by the author [Korsunov] to the Prosecutor General with the request to check the data given in the book, and in case of its confirmation to forbid the activities of Jewish national religious unions as extremist ones, his desire to attract readers' attention to existing differences between dogmas ... in the absence of any calls for committing illegal actions against representatives of this or that nation, race or religion, provoking hatred or hostility ... does not constitute a crime as described in article 282 part 1 of the Criminal Code ... ," he said.

The request to open a criminal case came from Ruslan Linkov, head of the St. Petersburg branch of Democratic Russia, and Yury Vdovin, co-chairman of human rights organization Citizens' Watch.

Linkov and Vdovin in January 2005 criticized Rus Pravoslavnaya for publishing a so-called "letter of 500," which was "saturated with extremism and hatred toward Jews."

The letter was signed by 20 State Duma deputies.

The City Prosecutor's Office first rejected opening a criminal case, deciding that a warning to the newspapers was sufficient. In May they decided to reconsider the rights activists' request.

The newspapers' editors have argued that the prosecutor's office has been too harsh toward them.

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Sunday, Apr. 20


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Monday, Apr. 21


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Tuesday, Apr. 22


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