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CIS, Baltic states and Georgia: Situation of the Jews

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 1 July 1992
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, CIS, Baltic states and Georgia: Situation of the Jews, 1 July 1992, available at: [accessed 25 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.



The situation of Jews living in the former Soviet Union has changed appreciably in the past few years, and Jewish culture is experiencing a revival in Soviet successor states. At the same time, however, grassroots anti-Semitism appears to be widespread, although its depth and extent is difficult to gauge; reports on the subject vary considerably in their focus and conclusions. Significantly, none of the reported anti-Semitic activity is state-sponsored.

This study of the current conditions in which Jews in the former Soviet Union live looks at these opposing trends (Jewish cultural revival and anti-Semitism), first in a general overview and then country by country.


2.1          Demography

According to the January 1989 Soviet census, there were 1,449,167 Jews living in the country at that time. This was a decline of nearly 20 percent from the 1979 census, and 36 percent from the 1959 census (Tables 1 and 2). Other unofficial sources estimate the actual number of Jews in the former USSR to be higher, possibly as much as three million (Canadian Jewish News 17 Oct. 1991; The New York Times 10 Feb. 1992).

For the first time, the 1989 census divided the Jewish population into subgroups. European Jews (Askhenazim), totalling 1,376,910, represented 95 percent of the population. There were 19,566 Mountain Jews (Tats), 16,123 Georgian Jews and 36,568 Central Asian (Bukharan) Jews (Table 3). The Crimean Jews (Krimchaki) numbered 1,448, and the Karaites (Karaim) 2,602.

According to the 1989 census figures, Russia had the largest Jewish population (550,422), followed by Ukraine (487,219) and Belarus (111,789). Eighty percent of the Jews living in the former USSR reside in these three states. In the Jewish Autonomous Oblast of Birobidzhan, created by Joseph Stalin in a remote area of far eastern Russia, there were 8,887 Jews, only about five percent of that Oblast's population.

Jews living in the former USSR have traditionally favoured an urban environment. Almost 99 percent live in cities. Table 4 gives estimates of the size of the Jewish population in some major cities of the former Soviet Union.

From mid-1989 to the end of 1991, about 350,000 Jews left the USSR. The emigration wave peaked in December 1990 when, according to the Jewish Agency, 35,000 arrived in Israel. In 1991, 145,005 emigrated to Israel and 34,715 settled in the U.S. under the refugee programme (Canadian Jewish News 30 Mar. 1992). In the last months of 1991 and early 1992, emigration slowed down. This trend is attributed mainly to problems experienced by Israel in absorbing the emigrants. These people face unemployment, housing shortages and inadequate social services, and report such conditions back to friends and family in the former Soviet Union (The New York Times 31 Jan. 1992; RFE/RL 22 May 1992). An October 1991 survey showed that 52 percent of Soviet Jews who had arrived in Israel since September 1989 were advising friends and relatives in the USSR to delay coming -- an increase from 37 percent in an identical survey conducted in June (The Jerusalem Post 16 Nov. 1991). Nevertheless, according to the Jewish Agency, the number of Soviet Jews with invitations to Israel was estimated at 1.2 million in the latter part of 1991 (The Jerusalem Report 21 Nov. 1991a).

A survey conducted in Moscow in 1990 indicated that the majority of Jews there cited a fear of civil unrest as the reason for emigrating to Israel. Only 11 percent pointed to their Jewishness as a factor. In the view of Henry Weinberg, chair of the Canada-USSR Academic Dialogue on Jewish Themes, the survey revealed that Jewish attitudes toward emigration are "complex and at times bewilderingly contradictory" (Viewpoints 20 Feb. 1992).

2.2   Ethnic Subdivisions: Language, Origin and Cultural Traditions

The six groups of Jews living in the former USSR differ in terms of origin, location, language, cultural traditions and their historical experience of anti-Semitism.

Most European Jews are descendants of Polish Jews who, in the late eighteenth century, were incorporated into the Russian Empire following the partition of Poland. Before the 1917 October Revolution, they were subject to many discriminatory laws restricting their geographic and socio-economic mobility. The Revolution abolished some of these restrictions but in their place, a new set of state-sponsored, harsh, discriminatory policies was created that eventually led to an almost total destruction of European Jewish culture.

Traditionally, European Jews spoke Yiddish and used Hebrew for ritual purposes. According to the 1989 Soviet census, however, only four percent of European Jews were still fluent in Yiddish, and only 11.1 percent declared it as their native tongue, making them one of the most linguistically-assimilated ethnic groups in the USSR.

Georgian Jews, whose roots reach back 2,600 years, represent one of the oldest Jewish communities in the former Soviet Union. Concentrated in the cities of western Georgia, including Kutaisi, Oni, Kulashi, Akhaltsikhe, Tskhinvali, Gori and Tbilisi, this prosperous Jewish group has experienced little anti-Jewish prejudice. They speak Georgian, but Russian-Georgian bilingualism is widespread.

Most of the 37,000 Central Asian Jews (about 28,000) live in the large cities of Uzbekistan: Samarkand, Tashkent, Bukhara, Kokand, Khatyrchi and Andizhan. About 5,000 reside in Tajikistan (see Table 3). According to the 1989 Soviet census, roughly 70 percent of Central Asian Jews speak the Judeo-Tajik dialect belonging to the group of Persian languages within the Indo-European family of languages. Most Central Asian Jews living in Uzbekistan also speak Uzbek and Russian.

Mountain Jews live in Azerbaijan and Dagestan, Russia, on the Caspian Sea shore. The 20,000 Tats in the former USSR (see Table 3) are part of a larger nation of 300,000 Tats, most of whom live in Iran. Tats are unusual in that they belong to three different world religions: Christianity, Islam and Judaism. The Judaic Tats of the Caucasus, traditionally referred to as Mountain Jews, speak Tat, a language belonging to the Iranian group within the Indo-European family of languages, or Judeo-Tat, a northern dialect of Tat, which has its own literary tradition. Practically all Soviet Tats speak Russian and Azeri, and 85.1 percent consider Russian to be their mother tongue (1989 Soviet census figures).

The Krimchaki number only 1,448, and represent what remains of the small Crimean Jewish community destroyed by the Nazis. They once spoke a Turkic language close to Tatar, but today almost all speak Russian.

The Karaites, descendants of a Jewish sect that rejected the teachings of the Talmud, numbered 2,602 in 1989. Most of them live in Lithuania and in the larger cities of Russia and Ukraine. Their distinctive traditions are today near extinction. According to the 1989 Soviet census, only two percent of the Karaites are fluent in Karaite, which belongs to the Turkic family of languages.


3.1  Cultural Revival

The opportunities for attending Jewish schools or practising Judaism are significantly greater now than a few years ago, when there was not a single recognized Jewish school in the former Soviet Union. The Soviet Vaad (Conference of Jewish Organizations) estimates that 100,000 Jews are enrolled in Jewish studies, whether in schools or privately (The New York Times 10 Feb. 1992). Close to 7,000 students attend some 90 full and part-time Jewish schools throughout the country (The Jerusalem Report 21 Nov. 1991b, 9). Jewish newspapers and periodicals are also being published in all major cities, and in Moscow alone, there are 95 different Jewish organizations (Haaretz 19 Nov. 1991). During the last few years, the Jewish community has been able to reclaim the estimated 120 synagogues of the former USSR and has refurbished and repainted them. The Reform movement has 17 embryonic congregations (The Jerusalem Report 21 Nov. 1991b, 9-11). A group of scholars from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem which helps protect and collect documentation about Jewish cultural treasures now has free access to sites in the former USSR that were once barred (The Jerusalem Report 5 Dec. 1991, 34).

In 1991, several international conferences on Jewish studies were held. These included the second annual Conference of Jewish Themes, in Moscow (Canadian Jewish News 30 Jan. 1992a), the Conference on Ukrainian-Jewish Relations, in Kiev (Svit Nos. 3-4 1991), and the Soviet Union's first conference on anti-Semitism (The Toronto Star 26 Sept. 1991).

The Maccabi sports clubs are among the most popular ventures, perhaps due to the overwhelmingly secular character of Soviet Jewry. According to coordinator Arie Rozenweig, Jews see them as vehicles by which they can reclaim their identities and enhance their ties to Jewish people, Judaism and Israel. In September 1991 there were as many as 35 clubs in the USSR. Two hundred and fifty athletes from the former Soviet Union are expected to participate in the Jewish Olympics in Jerusalem in 1993 (Canadian Jewish News 5 Sept. 1991).

The failure of the August 1991 putsch was enthusiastically welcomed by the Soviet Jewish community, whose leaders actively supported Boris Yeltsin throughout the ordeal (Haaretz 19 Nov. 1991). On 20 August 1991, the Soviet Vaad issued a strong condemnation of the putsch (The Jewish Times 30 Aug.- 20 Sept. 1991), a position echoed by Jewish communities outside the USSR (Canadian Jewish News 29 Aug. 1991a). That one of the victims of the coup was Jewish publicized Jewish support for democratic changes in Soviet society and helped to generate a feeling of solidarity between Jews and other ethnic groups (The Jerusalem Post 31 Aug. 1991; Forward 30 Aug. 1991). Subsequent to the coup, several prominent political figures, including Gorbachev, Yeltsin and Kravchuk, publicly condemned anti-Semitism (RFE/RL 18 Oct. 1991; Canadian Jewish News 9 Jan. 1992). Israel sought and then formally re-established full diplomatic relations with the USSR, 24 years after they were severed (The Jerusalem Post 26 Oct. 1991a; Canadian Jewish News 29 Aug. 1991b). Later, Israel also recognized and established ties with all 11 republics of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) (Canadian Jewish News 30 Jan. 1992b).

The first commemoration of the 1941 Babi Yar massacre, in which 30,000 Jews perished, was also held in the fall of 1991. This event gave the Jewish minority additional visibility and encouraged public discussion of anti-Semitism (The Jerusalem Post 12 Oct. 1991).

3.2                Anti-Semitic Attitudes

In the Soviet successor states, anti-Semitism is expressed by people from all strata of society, including members of the intelligentsia. These anti-Semites often point to Jewish emigration from the former USSR as evidence that Jews are disloyal to their country. Other frequent arguments against Jews are that they constitute the majority among the upper classes, that they are privileged and that they are the cause of many problems in Soviet society (Soviet Jewish Affairs No. 1 1991).

A poll released at a September 1991 conference organized by Vaad and the World Conference on Soviet Jews suggests that anti-Semitism is very widespread. The poll interviewed 4,200 Soviet citizens, more than half of whom wanted Jews out of the Soviet Union. More than ten percent wanted them moved to the eastern part of the country (The Toronto Star 26 Sept. 1991; Canadian Jewish News 3 Oct. 1991). Assessments of the depth of anti-Jewish prejudice in the former USSR, however, differ considerably. Some observers claim that the situation is getting worse because of the economic crisis and political instability, and that greater freedom of speech has led to more frequent and open expressions of anti-Semitism (Canadian Jewish News 3 Oct. 1991; 13 Feb. 1992; 30 Jan. 1992c). A number of press reports cite anti-Semitic activity in the former USSR, but many of these are general in nature, describing the climate for Jews as "extremely dangerous" (Canadian Jewish News 30 Jan. 1992c) or referring to "frequent violence" against Jews in the Central Asian republics (Canadian Jewish News 30 Jan. 1992b).

Others, however, contend that the situation is not quite as bad. Dr. Baruch Gur, Director of the Eastern European unit of the Jewish Agency, states that anti-Semitic organizations are marginal and under control and that the authorities are monitoring the situation carefully (Canadian Jewish News 17 Oct. 1991). Also, while anti-Semitism is widespread, some claim that it is not violent. One Jewish activist in Ukraine noted that everyone, not just Jews, feels unsafe (The Jerusalem Report 21 Nov. 1991b, 9). Significantly, there is no state sponsorship of anti-Semitism (National Conference on Soviet Jewry 18 June 1992; Chicago Action on Soviet Jewry 18 June 1992).

Organized anti-Semitic groups have emerged in the former USSR and continue to operate publicly. Most of these are in Russia (Minority Rights 1991, 51). The most notorious is Pamyat (Memory), which in 1991 had branches in at least 40 cities. The Moscow branch alone claimed 20,000 members (Minority Rights 1991, 51). Pamyat has its own newspaper, officially registered by the Russian Ministry of Press and Mass Information, and has recently opened a radio station that can broadcast throughout the former Soviet Union (Minority Rights 1991; Canadian Jewish News 30 Jan. 1992a; Einigkeit No. 5(8) 1991).

Russian authorities have taken some action to control the activities of Pamyat. One of Pamyat's branch leaders, Konstantin Smirnov-Ostashvili, was arrested in October 1990 and sentenced to two years in a labour camp for inciting inter-ethnic enmity; some meetings were banned in Leningrad; and the government has at times strongly criticized the organization's activities (Minority Rights 1991, 51, 54). While it is still active, Pamyat's profile may be declining, in part because of its support of the August 1991 coup attempt. One observer notes that Pamyat has been marginalized because it lacks the political sponsorship it once had (Chicago Action on Soviet Jewry 18 June 1992). In the latter part of 1991, Pamyat's weekend gatherings in St. Petersburg were reportedly attracting only a half-dozen people (The Jerusalem Report 21 Nov. 1991b, 9).

Anti-Semitic activity includes vandalism of cemeteries; graffiti, some of which encourages violence, on the doors of known Jewish institutions; attacks against synagogues; and most pervasive of all, anti-Semitic reading material (Khadashot No. 3 1991; No. 4 1991a; No. 5 1992a; The Jewish Times 1 Nov. 1991; Einigkeit No. 3(6) 1991; No. 2(5) 1991; Canadian Jewish News 5 Dec. 1991; Minority Rights 1991, 51-2; Union of Councils of Soviet Jews July 1991). Police have reportedly taken action in some cases where there is clearly a criminal offence such as theft or attempted sabotage, but authorities have been criticized for not taking action against the sale of anti-Semitic reading material (Khadashot No. 5 1992a; RFE/RL 22 May 1992; Canadian Jewish News 5 Dec. 1991).

The only high profile case brought against an individual for anti-Semitism remains that of Pamyat's Smirnov-Ostashvili, but there are plans to bring another influential figure to trial in Russia, and police are investigating complaints of anti-Semitic activity (Chicago Action on Soviet Jewry 18 June 1992; National Conference on Soviet Jewry 18 June 1992). A representative of Action for Soviet Jewry states that Jews are turning to the courts to stop anti-Semitism but notes that such efforts are typically led by Jews from outside the republics of the former Soviet Union, since local Jews are still too intimidated (17 June 1992).

Anti-Semitism in the army, including the military press, is much more prevalent than in society as a whole. One source states that in some cases, Jews are assigned to sensitive military units and are subsequently denied permission to emigrate because of their knowledge of state secrets (Chicago Action on Soviet Jewry 18 June 1992). According to reports from the early part of 1991, soldiers in the Soviet army were still educated in an "anti-Zionist" spirit (Society May/June 1991).


Lithuania was part of the Pale of Settlement, an area to which Jews living in the Russian Empire were confined in the 1790s, and which included Moldova, Belarus, Eastern Poland and most of Ukraine; the area was abolished in 1917. Lithuania's anti-Semitic tradition contrasts with that of Latvia and Estonia, where more liberal laws on minorities existed. Nevertheless, large strata of the local population in all three states sided with the Germans during the Second World War. As members of auxiliary units, some Balts, including a large number of Lithuanians, assisted the Nazis in exterminating Jews.

The Second World War decimated the original Baltic Jewish communities. Most Jews now living in the Baltic states settled there during the postwar period as part of the USSR's sovietization programme. They tended to be Russian-speaking and to identify culturally with the Russians. Jews were divided in their attitudes toward Baltic separatism, but the initial liberal policy of the Baltic National Fronts concerning minorities helped win Jewish support in the drive for independence. It has been said that the revival of Jewish cultural autonomy in the former USSR was born in the Baltics in 1987 (Soviet Jewish Affairs No. 1 1990).

According to representatives of two Soviet Jewry organizations in the United States, Jews have been adversely affected by the antagonism between the Balts and Russians, as Jews are sometimes identified with Russians. Leonid Stonov of the Chicago Action on Soviet Jewry claims also that the nationality laws in the Baltic states are "discriminatory against Jews" (Action for Soviet Jewry 17 June 1992; Chicago Action on Soviet Jewry 18 June 1992). (For more information on citizenship in the Baltics, see the Question and Answer paper entitled CIS, Baltic States and Georgia: Nationality Legislation.) Nevertheless, the policy of encouraging the establishment of Jewish cultural institutions continued into 1991 and the early part of 1992. In the independent Baltic states, Jews have enjoyed freedom of religious and cultural expression. Several Jewish papers and periodicals have appeared including the Russian-language Rassvet (Estonia) and Vestnik Yevreiskoi Kultury (Latvia). A Yiddish theatre in Vilnius, Maccabi sports clubs, the Society for National Re-Awakening "Tuma" and several schools offering a large selection of Hebrew, Yiddish and Jewish heritage courses were founded (Soviet Jewish Affairs No. 1 1990 and No. 1 1991). Several Jewish and Karaite synagogues reopened. Riga's Jewish community maintains a day school for 500 students, which is financially supported by the Latvian government (The Jerusalem Report 21 Nov. 1991b, 10). The Lithuanian Parliament's Commission on National Minorities is headed by a Karaite, Halina Kobeckaite (The Independent 22 Sept. 1991).

Anti-Semitism in Lithuania became a centre of attention in 1989 as the result of a rehabilitation, or redress, programme for Lithuanian nationalists previously convicted by Soviet legal authorities. Rehabilitation meant a 5,000-ruble grant and the return of previously confiscated property to the individual or his heirs. Jewish organizations in the West suspect that the rehabilitation included over 100 war criminals who assisted the Nazis in exterminating Jews (The Jerusalem Report 28 Nov. 1991; The Jerusalem Post 21 Sept. 1991 and 26 Oct. 1991b; Izvestiya 11 Sept. 1991). In October 1991, Lithuanian judicial authorities admitted that "serious mistakes" had been made and the programme was suspended (RFE/RL 25 Oct. 1991). The rehabilitation issue in Lithuania is also believed to have generated anti-Semitic feelings in Estonia (Action for Soviet Jewry 17 June 1992). To contain the damage done to its international reputation by the rehabilitation controversy, the Lithuanian government designated 23 September as a day of annual commemoration of the genocide of Jews in Lithuania (RFE/RL 4 Oct. 1991). Also in October 1991, Estonia, in a symbolic gesture, expressed sorrow for all Jews killed in the country during the Holocaust (The Jerusalem Post 26 Oct. 1991b).

The future cultural development of Jews in the Baltics is being affected by emigration, which has significantly reduced the size of the Jewish community. Emigration from the Baltics started in the 1970s and has been extremely high in the past two to three years. Towards the end of 1991, there were an estimated 18,000 Jews in Latvia, 6,000 in Lithuania and 3,000 in Estonia (The Jerusalem Report 21 Nov. 1991b). The total is two-thirds the number recorded in the 1989 Soviet census. While anti-Semitism is cited as one of the causes of emigration from the Baltics (Canadian Jewish News 5 Dec. 1991), the Union of Councils of Soviet Jews considers the situation to be "easier" for Jews in the Baltics than in Russia or Ukraine. One source believes that Lithuanian and Latvian independence movements are "more closely harnessed to a human-rights and minority-rights agenda" (Forward 30 Aug. 1991). Pamyat does not operate in the Baltics (Chicago Action on Soviet Jewry 18 June 1992).

5.               RUSSIA

Russia has a tradition of anti-Semitism going back to the tsarist period. It is a history that has inspired a grassroots hatred of Jews, and it is marked by official, state-sponsored anti-Semitism, including pogroms. Banned from much of the territory of the Russian Empire, Jews were compelled to live in the Pale of Settlement. The 1917 October Revolution abolished most of the tsarist anti-Jewish restrictions but replaced them with a different set of discriminatory laws and practices which led to the almost complete destruction of Jewish culture (for information on the distribution of Jews in Russia by autonomous republics and districts, see Table 5).

This historical tradition has been significantly reversed in the past two to three years, and the practice of Judaism in Russia is now tolerated. On 1 December 1991, for the first time in the history of Russia and of Moscow, Jews celebrated Hanukkah at the Kremlin Palace of Congresses (Izvestiya 2 Dec. 1991). Several new congregations were founded and synagogues were returned to the Jewish community. A Jewish congregation was registered in Kazan, the first in Tatarstan (RFE/RL 30 Aug. 1991). In August 1991, a building of the former yeshivah (Jewish religious school) was returned to the chief rabbi of Moscow (RFE/RL 30 Aug. 1991) and buildings adjacent to Moscow's Choral Synagogue were returned to the Jewish community as a symbol of the city's good relations with its 27 religious communities (Canadian Jewish News 15 Aug. 1991a).

By mid-1991, Moscow had, with the assistance of foreign sponsors, opened three Jewish day schools for 600 to 1,000 Jewish children aged five to sixteen. While the majority of Jewish students will remain in state schools, which have a six-day week, those who do not want to attend school on Saturday, the Jewish sabbath, now have the opportunity of switching to a Jewish religious school. The school buildings, donated by City Council, did not previously belong to the Jewish community (Canadian Jewish News 15 Aug. 1991b).

Moscow now has an Open Jewish University, a branch of a New York Jewish institution of higher learning, Turo College (Viewpoints 20 Feb. 1992). Domestic as well as foreign instructors are allowed to teach Hebrew. For decades, Hebrew teachers were persecuted; now, many are trained abroad as preachers and community leaders (RFE/RL 30 Aug. 1991). The Russian Ministry of Culture stated in July 1991 that it was ready to actively support the revival of Jewish culture and to help create a Jewish cultural centre in the Jewish Autonomous Oblast of Birobidzhan. At present, a society called Birobidzhan-Israel, a club of friends of Jewish culture, a Sunday school, a Jewish theatre and a synagogue are functioning in the Oblast (RFE/RL 30 Aug. 1991).

Several conferences on Judaism took place in Russia last year (RFE/RL 30 Aug. 1991). In March 1991, Jewish religious and non-religious organizations met in Moscow to discuss ways of coordinating the revival of national and cultural traditions of the Jews in the USSR. More than 200 delegates from all over the USSR attended (RFE/RL 22 Mar. 1991 and 30 Aug. 1991). The first Soviet conference on anti-Semitism was held in September 1991 in Moscow (The Toronto Star 26 Sept. 1991). The second Congress of Soviet Jews also took place in Moscow. It was attended by 1,100 representatives of 350 Jewish organizations and communities from 82 cities (RFE/RL 1 Feb. 1991).

There is currently no evidence of state-sponsored discrimination against religious Jews (Chicago Action on Soviet Jewry 18 June 1992; National Conference on Soviet Jewry 18 June 1992; The Jewish Observer Jan. 1992a). Pinchas Goldschmidt, a Zurich-born new religious leader of Moscow's main synagogue and deputy chief rabbi of Russia, stated in the summer of 1991 that he was amazed by the respect for religion in the USSR (Canadian Jewish News 15 Aug. 1991b). Religious Jews who wear yarmulkes in the streets of St. Petersburg claim they meet almost no hostility (The Jerusalem Report 21 Nov. 1991b, 9).

Although movement toward democracy and free speech has been a catalyst for the Jewish cultural revival, it has also brought out into the open more grassroots anti-Semitism. During the Hanukkah celebrations in December 1991, the opening ceremony was disrupted by demonstrators with placards reading "Popov is a mayor of Tel Aviv" and "Turning the sacred Kremlin into a synagogue is a crime against all humanity" (Izvestiya 2 Dec. 1991; BBC 3 Dec. 1991).

A number of organized anti-Semitic groups are active in Russia. In addition to the Pamyat movement (described in Section 3.2), conservative, anti-Yeltsin groups spread the message of chauvinism, Communist nostalgia and anti-Semitism. Such right-wing, nationalistic groups include Yedinstvo (Unity), which defends Stalinism and denounces Jews as pro-capitalist and unpatriotic; the Sloviansky Sobor (Slavic Union), with an estimated 900 members, which fights the Jewish "implant" in the former USSR (Minority Rights 1991); the Russian Popular Republican Party; Yedinenie (Unification), which is otherwise known as the All-Russian Association of Devotees of Russian Literature and Culture; Spasenie (Salvation); the Russian Orthodox Movement; the Russian Orthodox National Patriotic Front and the Conference of Public Political Patriotic Unions (Union of Councils of Soviet Jews July 1991). Anti-Jewish messages have also been spread by extreme nationalist groups within the Orthodox Church. The Truly Orthodox Church condemned the appeal made by Patriarch Aleksy of the main-stream Orthodox Church for brotherhood with the Jews. Describing the appeal as "insulting to believers" and "blasphemous," the Truly Orthodox Church filed a law suit against Patriarch Aleksy (Moscow News Mar. 1992).

In addition to the continued activity of organized, known anti-Semitic groups, anti-Semitic reading material is openly sold and anti-Jewish graffiti has been reported in a number of the larger Russian cities (Khadashot No. 3 1991; Canadian Jewish News 5 Dec. 1991; The Jerusalem Post 8 Feb. 1992). Information on the extent of such activities in smaller cities and towns is difficult to obtain. Although the Russian government has strongly criticized anti-Semitism, one source reports that "some time ago" anti-Semitic reading material was being sold openly in the building of the Supreme Soviet under "the watchful eye of several rows of KGB men." The same source also makes mention of Moscow's Arbat Street, where speakers make anti-Semitic speeches, apparently without interference from the authorities (Canadian Jewish News 5 Dec. 1991). Russian authorities have been criticized by the reformist media for not taking action against anti-Semitic groups and the distribution of anti-Semitic literature, despite an article in the Russian Criminal Code that prohibits such activity (RFE/RL 22 May 1992).

The open expression of grassroots anti-Semitism has led to Jewish concerns over the possibility of pogroms (Canadian Jewish News 3 Oct. 1991; The Jerusalem Post 8 Feb. 1992), although at the time of writing in July 1992, there were no reports of a pogrom in Russia.

6.      UKRAINE

Anti-Semitism has long historical roots in Ukraine. Jewish historians regard the seventeenth century peasant massacres of Jews as a national disaster second only to the Holocaust. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Ukraine was part of the Pale of Settlement and the scene of anti-Jewish violence and pogroms. Inter-ethnic tensions increased during the interwar period and persisted under the German occupation when Jews met with considerable hostility from the local population. Ukrainians also collaborated with Nazis in mass killings and deportations of Jews (Canadian Jewish News 30 Jan. 1992d).

As an independent country, Ukraine is home to the world's fourth largest Diaspora Jewish community after the U.S., Russia and France. According to the Jewish Agency representative in Kiev, however, only two to three percent of an estimated 600,000 Jews in Ukraine are involved in Jewish cultural life and many are emigrating. Jews were leaving Ukraine at the rate of about 3,000 per month at the end of 1991 (The Jerusalem Report 12 Dec. 1991). Yet, Ukraine's Jewish minority is experiencing a national revival for the first time in decades.

Jewish revival in Ukraine is expressing itself in a flowering of new organizations and the reopening of centres throughout the country (The Jewish Observer Jan. 1992b). Since 1989, Kiev has become home to two Jewish newspapers; a Jewish library; a Jewish theatre, dance troupe and choir; an Israeli video library; and a school that offers instruction in Hebrew. Jewish cultural organizations have sprung up in several other cities in Ukraine as well, including Lvov, Rivne and Odessa (Minority Rights 1991, 81). The city of Khmelnitskii has donated a building to Jewish organizations (Khadashot No. 4 1991b). Among the most active Jewish organizations across Ukraine are the Sholom Aleikhem Cultural Society and the Maccabi sports club (The Jerusalem Report 21 Nov. 1991b; Yevreiskiye Vesti June-July 1991; Khadashot No. 2 1991).

In Kharkov, a synagogue returned to the Jewish community by the City Council is being used for a variety of religious, cultural and charitable activities. The Kharkov Jewish community plans to establish a postgraduate medical centre (RFE/RL 30 Aug. 1991).

In Donetsk, two rabbis from New York are teaching Hebrew to children free of charge. The first ever Jewish summer school in the USSR opened there in July 1991: students took two-month courses in Hebrew, and lectures were given on the history of the Jewish people; as well, Jewish musical works were performed under the auspices of the new Jewish cultural society "Tkhia" (Revival) and the local synagogue (RFE/RL 30 Aug. 1991). A Jewish community school was also opened in Nikolayev (Khadashot No. 4 1991c; TASS 28 Oct. 1991).

An American rabbi who has been working in Kiev for two years recently acknowledged that Ukraine has a long history of anti-Semitism and that he had heard of instances of vandalism in Jewish graveyards, but added that "things have come a long way in Ukraine and that right now, there is no official anti-Semitism" (The New Yorker 27 Jan. 1992, 53).

In Kiev, dozens of Hebrew and Yiddish banners hung over the city's main streets during a week-long commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Babi Yar massacre (The Jerusalem Report 21 Nov. 1991b, 9). Similar commemorations were held in other Ukrainian cities such as Khmelnitskii (Khadashot No. 4 1991b). In the spring of 1991, the Ukrainian Minister of Education approved the establishment of Hebrew language departments at Kiev University and the University of Odessa (Minority Rights 1991, 77-78).

Alongside the renewed Jewish cultural and religious life in Ukraine is the glorification of Ukrainian nationalism, which, in some aspects, carries a distinctly anti-Semitic tone. Near Babi Yar, for example, a group of 1000 Ukrainian nationalists reportedly protested "the takeover of a Ukrainian atrocity by the Jews." Rehabilitation programmes granting blanket amnesties to large numbers of Ukrainian nationalists who were convicted by Soviet courts resemble those being carried out in Lithuania. There are reportedly no mechanisms to check whether those being given amnesty are guilty of World War II atrocities (Canadian Jewish News 10 Oct. 1991).

The Ukrainian nationalist revival does not necessarily contain anti-Jewish tendencies, however. In fact, the nationalist movement Rukh and the democratic opposition have joined forces to prevent a revival of ethnic conflict in Ukraine and contain grassroots anti-Semitism. Rukh's 1989 resolution "Against Anti-Semitism" opened a new chapter in postwar Ukrainian-Jewish relations, leading to an alliance of sorts between Jews and some Ukrainian nationalists (The Jerusalem Report 12 Dec. 1991; The Ukrainian Weekly 29 Oct. 1989). Rukh also established its own council of nationalities, which not only includes the Jews, but is headed by Alexander Burakovsky, a Jewish writer (Minority Rights 1991, 79; RFE/RL 18 Jan. 1991). At the first Soviet Vaad meeting held in Moscow in 1990, Rukh provided security protection (Action for Soviet Jewry 17 June 1992).

Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk "formally and decisively" denounced anti-Semitism in Ukraine and has stood out as the only CIS politician to affirm friendship with Israel "in a solid public way" (Canadian Jewish News 9 Jan. 1992). This could soon lead to the establishment of diplomatic relations and dual Ukrainian-Israeli citizenship. Kravchuk's leadership as well as Ukraine's declaration of independence were warmly received by Ukrainian-Jewish organizations such as Sholom-Aleikhem (Vozrozhdeniye '91 Dec. 1991b; Shofar No. 11 1991; Minority Rights 1991). Most Ukrainian Jews voted for Ukraine's independence (The Jerusalem Report 12 Dec. 1991).

Despite this general change in attitude toward the Jews, several cases of vandalism directed against Jewish cultural heritage show the persistence of grassroots anti-Semitism (Minority Rights 1991). There was an apparent sabotage attempt against the Kiev Choral Synagogue in December 1991, when security guards discovered two grenades inside the building (Khadashot No. 4 1991a). Authorities have launched an investigation, but, by the early part of 1992, no progress had been reported (Khadashot No. 5 1992a). In Donetsk, the local synagogue was vandalized and three Torah scrolls were stolen (Khadashot No. 5 1992a).

Pamyat is also attempting to make inroads in Ukraine. Its short-wave broadcasts are being clearly picked up (Einigkeit No. 5(8) 1991), and in the city of Zhitomir, it organized an illegal meeting to denounce the Judeo-masonic influence of Rukh. There are reportedly 72 members of Pamyat in Zhitomir (Vozrozhdeniye '91 Dec. 1991a). Despite these activities, one Jewish activist in Ukraine believes that Pamyat and similar organizations do not have a foothold in Ukraine (Khadashot No. 5 1992b).

A recent alleged incident of anti-Semitism involves Dimitri Berman, a Ukrainian Jew who asked for political asylum in the Embassy of Canada in Moscow claiming he was tortured by the Ukrainian prison authorities for being a Jew (Inter Press Service 23 Mar. 1992; The Ottawa Citizen 2 May 1992). A few months later, however, Berman left the embassy of his own accord. The Canadian Ambassador remarked that the changes in the former USSR may have convinced him that there was nothing to fear (The Globe and Mail 2 May 1992).

As in other parts of the former USSR, Jews in Ukraine may be affected by anti-Russian sentiment. According to Baruch Gur, of the Jewish Agency, this has produced "an unhealthy climate" for Ukrainian Jews (The Jerusalem Report 21 Nov. 1991a). Other Jewish sources contend that the climate has improved significantly (Chicago Action on Soviet Jewry 18 June 1992) and that the situation for Jews in Ukraine is better than in Russia (Khadashot No. 5 1992b).


As elsewhere on the territory of the Pale of Settlement, a strong tradition of popular anti-Semitism took root in Belarus and Moldova in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. One of the most notorious pogroms inspired by the tsarist police took place in Kishinev, Moldova, in 1903. During the Nazi occupation, some Belarussians served in German military formations involved in anti-Jewish operations. After World War II, the anti-Semitic policies of successive Belarussian and Moldovan governments did not differ from those implemented elsewhere in the USSR.

Belarus is currently witnessing a revival of Jewish culture. There has been a rapid proliferation of Jewish institutions, including the establishment in Minsk of a B'nai Akiva branch and several day schools (The Jerusalem Report 21 Nov. 1991b, 9). There are no official restrictions on Jewish religious life and cultural expression in Belarus today (Action for Soviet Jewry 17 June 1992).

Nevertheless, popular anti-Semitism is in evidence. In April and May of 1988, Jewish gravestones and gravesites were vandalised (Minority Rights 1991, 52). The newspaper Slavianskie vedomosti has gained fame for its openly anti-Semitic character, but the current Belarussian government is taking action to combat such anti-Semitic activity. It recently passed a law prohibiting the incitement of ethnic hatred, which will enable the Belarussian State Committee for the Press to bring to trial the editor of Slavianskie vedomosti as well as two other publications. Legal action against these papers has been requested by parliamentary opposition deputies (RFE/RL 24 Jan. 1992).

In several cities of Moldova, synagogues reopened and a number of Jewish cultural institutions, including day schools, the Jewish Cultural Society and a Maccabi sports club, have been established. The Nash Golos newspaper publishes a number of copies in Hebrew. The state is financing the creation of a Department of Jewish Studies at Kishinev University to teach Jewish history and culture and the Hebrew and Yiddish languages. It has also mandated the opening of a Jewish high school in Kishinev and the introduction of Jewish classes in high schools in several Moldovan cities, and it is providing financial support to the Society for Jewish Culture and its publications (RFE/RL 23 Aug. 1991; Sovetskaya Moldova 16 Oct. 1990).

On 4 July 1991, Moldova observed a "Day of Remembrance" for the Jewish victims of the holocaust (RFE/RL 12 July 1991). Chabad Hasidim, an orthodox Jewish movement, celebrated the Sukkot holiday in September 1991 by building a sukkah, or booth, on Kishinev's main street (The Jerusalem Report 21 Nov. 1991b, 9).

Tensions and military conflict between the Slavic and Romanian population have, however, made the predominantly Russian-speaking Jews uncomfortable as they are perceived as Russians. This is likely a major cause of emigration from Moldova. In 1991, 18,000 Jews, almost 30 percent of the total Jewish population in Moldova according to 1989 census figures, emigrated from the republic (RFE/RL 13 Mar. 1992).

References to specific instances of anti-Semitic activity in Moldova have not been found. A report from the summer of 1991 claimed that no major anti-Semitic incidents had been reported in the past few years (RFE/RL 12 July 1991).


There is no long history of anti-Semitism in Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan. One report states that anti-Semitism has been "paradoxically absent" in Azerbaijan (The Jerusalem Post 11 Jan. 1992).

Historically, Georgia provided a friendly environment to one of the oldest Jewish communities of the former USSR (for the distribution of the Jewish population in Georgia see Table 6). Rachel Arbel, who organized an exhibition in Israel on Georgian Jewry, attributes this to two factors: Armenians, not Jews, were moneylenders in Georgia, and Georgian popular tradition credits the Jews, who began settling in Georgia 2,600 years ago, with facilitating the spread of Christianity (The Jerusalem Post 15 Feb. 1992).

Several Jewish institutions, both religious and non-religious, have sprung up in Georgia in the past two years. The Georgian Jewish national renewal started with the founding of the Association for the Study of Georgian-Jewish Relations, soon followed by the Association of Georgian Jewry, Hebrew study centres, Maccabi sports clubs and a newspaper. Tbilisi now has two synagogues, Sephardic as well as Askhenazi, several schools, including a yeshivah, a Maccabi sports club, an Israeli dancing group, an Israeli consulate and a Jewish Agency office. There are now weekly flights between Tbilisi and Tel Aviv. Last year, male community members who wished to be circumcised were offered flights to Paris and stays in French hospitals, with funding provided by international Jewish organizations. In December 1991, Hanukkah was celebrated in Tbilisi. The city also had a ritual slaughterer for kosher food (The Jewish Observer Mar. 1992).

As in the Baltics, the process of building community infrastructure for the Georgian Jewish community has been slowed down because of emigration. Two thirds (40,000) of all Georgian Jews now live in Israel. Much emigration occurred between 1970 and 1980 (The Jerusalem Post 15 Feb. 1992), and the exodus continues. One expert on Soviet Jewry attributes this emigration not to anti-Semitism, but to the strong maintenance of Jewish traditions, including "a yearning to return to Zion," and the close family ties, which mean emigration by family unit rather than as individuals (Gitelman 1991, 12).

The Caucasus has seen an increase in the activity of Jewish international institutions concerned about the safety of Jews in this war-torn region, but during the recent fighting in Georgia, there were no reports of Jews killed or wounded (The Jerusalem Post 4 Jan. 1992).

The ethnic conflict between Azeris and Armenians is a cause of concern for the Jewish community. The anti-Armenian riots in Baku in 1990 sped up the exodus from Azerbaijan of non-Azeris, including Jews. Nevertheless, as recently as the beginning of 1992, Arye Wasserman of Tel Aviv University, a Baku native, viewed Azerbaijan as "perhaps the best place for Jews to live" (The Jerusalem Post 11 Jan. 1992).

Some Jewish groups have expressed concern that Jews may be adversely affected by an Islamic revival in Azerbaijan and other predominantly Muslim regions of the Caucasus. Other analysts, however, see this as an unlikely scenario for the near future (see Section 9 on Central Asia). One reason is that these societies are now predominantly secular. An example of the region's current secular orientation was demonstrated during the Third Congress of the Mountain Peoples of the Caucasus, held in the fall of 1991. The delegates flatly turned down the proposal to declare Islam a state religion for the Confederation of the Mountain Peoples of the Caucasus. "Many are coming to understand that clerical totalitarianism is no better than its secular variety" (Moscow News Apr. 1992).

Azerbaijan's secular, pro-Turkish orientation is strengthened by its conflict with Iran over the latter's treatment of its Azeri minority (The Jerusalem Post 11 Jan. 1992). In 1991, in fact, the President of Azerbaijan expressed a desire for relations with Israel. Given the history of good relations between Jews and Muslims in the region, Azerbaijan is emerging as an "intriguing new field for Israeli policy makers" (The Jerusalem Post 11 Jan. 1992).

Armenia, with a Jewish population of only 678,000 according to the 1989 Soviet census, is rarely mentioned in reports dealing with Jews of the former Soviet Union. At the time of writing, there was no information available to IRBDC detailing instances of anti-Semitic activity in Armenia.


Central Asia was generally regarded as a good place for Jews to live in the former Soviet Union (Forward 29 June 1990; The Jerusalem Post 11 Jan. 1992). Since the August 1991 coup, the situation appears to have deteriorated, but there are conflicting views of the extent of the change.

Since the latter part of the 1980s, Jews in Central Asia have experienced a considerable cultural revival. In Uzbekistan, two Jewish religious schools opened in the summer of 1990 after a new law was passed by parliament on freedom of conscience and religious organizations. The first elementary Jewish school and a high school were set up in Tashkent on the initiative of the new chief rabbi of Tashkent, Abe-David Gurevich, a U.S. citizen (RFE/RL 30 Aug. 1991). Tashkent also has a synagogue and a Jewish cultural centre (The Jerusalem Report 12 Mar. 1992a).

At the same time, there have been instances of anti-Jewish activities in Central Asia. In Uzbekistan, the nationalist Birlik movement includes extremists who support driving the Russian-speaking population, including Jews and Armenians, out of the republic (Forward 29 June 1990). In 1990, anti-Jewish and anti-Armenian riots, the first since Soviets came to power, took place in Andizhan, Uzbekistan. Instances of anti-Jewish violence also took place in 1991 in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. According to one source, the events went unreported at the time, as the Tajik, Kazakh and Uzbek Jewish cultural associations and other organizations in the region kept "silent because of fear." The source implies that this fear stems from "state control and manipulation," but does not provide further details (Union of Councils of Soviet Jews July 1991).

Since the August 1991 coup attempt, several reports indicate that the situation is worsening. A representative of the Union of Councils of Soviet Jews has reported on "massive discrimination and frequent anti-Jewish violence" against Jews in Central Asia, as well as the unwillingness of the authorities to curb anti-Jewish action (Canadian Jewish News 30 Jan. 1992b). A report about a Jewish boy who was beaten by police in Dushanbe after being apprehended as a suspect in a car theft indicates that he was then told by police that they wanted to shoot all Jews if they could (National Conference on Soviet Jewry 18 June 1992). There are also reports of discrimination against Jews in the workplace and of Jewish homes being burned (Action for Soviet Jewry 17 June 1992).

In the unstable post-coup political environment, new concerns are being expressed about an Islamic revival and its possible impact on Jews, as in the Caucasus. Islamic fundamentalism currently appears most likely to take root in Tajikistan, where the Islamic Renaissance party has a noticeable following. In the Fergana Valley, which is divided among Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, the Islamic political movement also finds mass support and challenges the government. In Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, however, secular government is more firmly rooted, for now at least (Foreign Policy 1992, 181). In Uzbekistan, this is because the government is still dominated by former Communists. Moreover, the ethnic and linguistic links between Uzbeks and Turks serve to strengthen the appeal of the secular, Turkish model of government (The Jerusalem Report 12 Mar. 1992a).

Varying opinions exist on the likelihood of an Islamic revival. Jewish organizations, in fact, disagree among themselves. On the one hand, concern over rising nationalism and the possible growth of Islamic fundamentalism has led international Jewish organizations to increase their activity in the Muslim republics. The Jerusalem Post reports that the Jewish Agency currently has 11 representatives in Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan to assist the estimated 200,000 Jews living there (25 Jan. 1992) (note that the 1989 census records a population of 125,000). Others are more sanguine about the situation. While expressing concern, a Canadian B'nai B'rith official notes that progress on democratic development, the largely secular nature of these societies and the freedom to emigrate are positive factors for Jews in Central Asia (Canadian Jewish News 30 Jan. 1992b). In March 1992, one observer remarked that the threat of Islamic fundamentalism in Uzbekistan "is still remote" and that Uzbek officials are "warm both toward Israel and the local Jewish community" (The Jerusalem Report 12 Mar. 1992a). One reason for establishing good relations with Israel is to realize the potential for extended economic cooperation, especially in the field of agriculture (The Jerusalem Report 12 Mar. 1992b).

Apart from concerns over Islamic fundamentalism, Jews in Central Asia are becoming increasingly wary of strong anti-Russian sentiment, as Ashkenazi Jews are perceived as Russians. In Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, nationalistic language laws have alienated the Russian-speaking Ashkenazi Jewish population. Central Asian Jews, who speak a Tajik dialect, are not directly affected (The Jerusalem Report 12 Mar. 1992a; Chicago Action on Soviet Jewry 18 June 1992).

Despite the unpredictable political situation, it was reported that in the latter part of 1991 at least eight Jewish families returned to Samarkand, Uzbekistan, and many more members of the community in Israel plan to follow, especially members of the upwardly mobile intelligentsia (The Jerusalem Post 5 Nov. 1991).

10.      SUMMARY

The contending themes of Jewish cultural revival and grassroots anti-Semitism are apparent in all Soviet successor states. Ironically, greater openness and democratization are responsible for both trends. Political change has also meant access to all regions of the former USSR by international Jewish agencies and an increase in the volume of material from the emerging domestic Jewish press. As a result, there is no lack of reporting on the general situation for Jews in the Soviet successor states. More specific local information is very difficult to gather.

Varying viewpoints on what the current political climate means for Jews are evidenced by the literature. In sifting through the material and weighing competing judgements, the overriding impression is that the general situation is much better than it was four or five years ago, although this does not necessarily mean that the climate is better for individual Jews living in the former USSR. Important to this general assessment is the fact that there is no longer state-sponsored anti-Semitism in these countries. Also, there is the right to emigrate, a right which a great many have chosen to exercise.

Finally, the transition period in which each of the Soviet successor states finds itself is unstable and unpredictable. If the social fabric and economy continue to deteriorate, any number of developments might occur which have implications for the Jews living there. The situation could therefore change again in the coming months and years and requires close monitoring.

11.             APPENDIX

Table 1: Jewish Population in the USSR in 1989 Compared to the Previous Census


1979        1989        1989 as %              %of USSR
                of 1979   1989 total


USSR      1,807,871                1,449,167                80.2         100.0

Russia    699,286   550,422   78.7         40.0

Ukraine  632,877   487,219   77.0         33.6

Belarus   135,416   111,789   82.6         7.7

Moldova                80,087     65,757     82.1         4.5

Estonia   4,954       4,613       93.1         0.3

Latvia     28,318     22,897     80.9         1.6

Lithuania               14,644     12,312     84.1         0.8

Armenia 953          678          71.1         0.05

Azerbaijan             35,455     30,762     86.8         2.1

Georgia  28,121     24,669     87.7         1.7

Kazakhstan           23,379     19,863     85.0         1.4

Uzbekistan            99,836     94,657     94.8         6.5

Tajikistan               14,655     14,621     99.8         1.0

Kyrgyzstan           6,814       5,950       87.3         0.4

Turkmenistan        2,818       2,356       83.6         0.2


Source:Natsionalnyi sostav nasileniya (National Composition of the Population). 1979 and 1989. Moscow: Information Publishing Centre.

Table 2: Decrease in the Size of the Jewish Minority in the USSR


Region   1959        1970        1979        1989        1959


USSR      2,267,800                2,150,700                1,807,871                1,449,167                -36.1

Russia    875,307   807,915   699,286   550,422   -37.1

Ukraine  840,314   777,126   632,877   487,219   -42.0

Belarus   150,084   148,011   135,416   111,789   -25.5

Moldova                95,107     98,072     80,087     65,757     -30.9

Estonia   5,436       5,388       4,954       4,613       -8.9

Latvia     36,592     36,680     28,318     22,897     -37.4

Lithuania               24,672     23,564     14,644     12,312     -50.1

Armenia 1,024       1,048       953          678          -34.0

Azerbaijan             40,204     41,382     35,455     30,762     -23.5

Georgia  51,582     55,382     28,121     24,669     -52.2

Kazakhstan           28,048     27,689     23,379     19,863     -29.2

Uzbekistan            94,344     102,855   99,836     94,657     0.1

Tajikistan               12,414     14,615     14,655     14,621     17.8

Kyrgyzstan           8,610       7,680       6,814       5,950       -20.9

Turkmenistan        4,078       3,494       2,818       2,356       -42.2


Source:Natsionalnyi sostav nasileniya (National Composition of the Population). 1959, 1970, 1979 and 1989. Moscow: Information Publishing Centre.

Table 3: Ethnic Subdivisions Among Soviet Jews


European               Mountain              Georgian                Central
                Jews       Jews       Jews       Asian Jews


USSR total             1,376,910                19,566     16,123     36,568

Russia    536,422   11,342     1,177       1,481

Ukraine  485,975   740          116          388

Belarus   111,883   73            4              15

Uzbekistan            65,493     800          210          28,369

Kazakhstan           18,379     503          186          795

Georgia  10,302     54            14,314     40

Azerbaijan             25,190     5,484       30            88

Lithuania               12,314     69            1              6

Moldova                65,668     89            33            5

Latvia     22,897     2              2              ...

Kyrgyzstan           5,604       48            7              356

Tajikistan               9,701       164          22            4,879

Armenia 676          22            5              17

Turkmenistan        2,323       71            10            72

Estonia   4,613       11            3              3


Source:Soyuz (weekly addition to Izviestia). August 1990. No. 32.

Table 4: Distribution of Jews by Major Cities


Moscow, Russia  400,000

St. Petersburg, Russia         140,000

Kiev, Ukraine        100,600

Kharkhov, Ukraine               48,900

Minsk, Belarus     39,100

Odessa, Ukraine   69,100

Kishinev, Moldova              35,000

Tashkent, Uzbekistan          43,100

Baku, Azerbaijan 30,000

Dushanbe, Tajikistan          13,000

Tbilisi, Georgia     10,000


Sources:Natsionalnyi sostav naseleniya (National Composition of the Population). 1989. Moscow: Information Publishing Centre; The Jerusalem Report 21 Nov. 1991; The New York Times 10 Feb. 1992 and 3 May 1990; Canadian Jewish News 30 Jan. 1992; The Jewish Observer Jan. 1992.

Table 5: Distribution of Jews in Russia

Abbreviations:ASRR = Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic

AOb = Autonomous Oblast

AOk= Autonomous Okrug


1979        1989        1989 as % of 1979


RUSSIA total        699,286   550,422   78.7

Eur. Jews               692,311   536,422   77.5

Mnt. Jews              6,509       11,342     174.3

Geor. Jews             130          1,177       907.4

CA. Jews               336          1,481       440.7


Bashkir ASSR
                Eur. Jews               5,851       4,835       82.6


Buryat ASSR
                Eur. Jews               1,641       1,181       72.0


Dagestan               Eur. Jews               14,033     9,390       66.9


Kabardino-Balkar ASSR
                Eur. Jews               3,046       1,726       56.7

Mnt. Jews              612          3,161       520.0


Kalmyk ASSR

Eur. Jews               126          82            65.1


Karelian ASSR
                Eur. Jews               1,469       1,203       81.9


Komi ASSR           Eur. Jews               1,656       1,281       77.5


Mari ASSR            Eur. Jews               527          424          80.5


Mordovian ASSR
                Eur. Jews               459          326          71.0


North Ossetian ASSR
                Eur. Jews               1,510       1,171       74.0

Mnt. Jews              14            78            557.1


Tatar ASSR           Eur. Jews               8,650       7,294       84.5


Eur. Udmur ASSR
Eur.Jews        1,815       1,639       90.3


Chechen-Ingush ASSR

Eur. Jews               3,993       2,651       66.4

Mnt. Jews              295          917          310.8


Chuvash ASSR
                Eur. Jews               844          819          97.0


Yakut ASSR          Eur. Jews               1,175       1,125       95.8


Adigey AOb         Eur. Jews               304          252          82.9


Evrei AOb             Eur. Jews               10,163     8,887       87.4


Karachay-Cherkess AOb

Eur. Jews               182          246          135.2


Khakas AOb         Eur. Jews               247          175          70.9


Taimyr (Dolgano-Nenets) AOb
                Eur. Jews               69            67            97.1


Khanty-Mansi AOk
         Eur. Jews       987          2,053       209.9


Chukchi AOk        Eur. Jews               360          332          92.2


Yamalo-Nenets AOk
                Eur. Jews               252          1,091       432.9


Source:Natsionalnyi sostav naseleniya (National Composition of the Population). 1989. Moscow: Information Publishing Centre.

Table 6: Distribution of the Jewish population in Georgia

Abbreviations:     ASRR = Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic

AOb = Autonomous Oblast


1979        1989        1989as % of 1979


GEORGIA              total        28,121     24,669     87.7

Eur. Jews               20,107     10,302     51.2

Mnt. Jews              40            53            132.5

Geor. Jews             7,974       14,314     179.5


Abkhazian ASSR
                Eur. Jews               1,976       1,421       71.9

Geor. Jews             4              247          617.5


Adzhar ASSR
                Eur. Jews               883          655          72.2


South Ossetian AOb
                Eur. Jews               506          113          22.3

Geor. Jews             143          383          197.9


Source:Natsionalnyi sostav nasileniya (National Composition of Population). 1989. Moscow: Information Publishing Centre.

12.                REFERENCES

Action for Soviet Jewry, Waltham, MA. 17 june 1992. Telephone Interview with Representative.

BBC Summary of World Broadcasts. 3 December 1991. "Antisemitic Posters Out for Moscow Hanukkah Celebrations."

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Canadian Jewish News [Montréal]. 30 January 1992d. "Ukrainian Cemetery's Care is Sought by Victoria Jew."

Canadian Jewish News [Montréal]. 9 January 1992. Frances Kraft. "Antisemitism, Economy Seen as Hurting Jews in CIS."

Canadian Jewish News [Montréal]. 5 December 1991. Grigori Konovich. "Lithuanian Jewish Community Is on the Move."

Canadian Jewish News [Montréal]. 17 October 1991. Rabbi Gunther Plaut. "Gur Brings Insight into Work of Jewish Agency. Changes in Soviet Union Affecting Life of Jews."

Canadian Jewish News [Montréal]. 10 October 1991. Paul Lungen. "Ukraine Glorifies SS Members."

Canadian Jewish News [Montréal]. 3 October 1991. "Pogroms and Antisemitism Key Concerns for Soviet Jews."

Canadian Jewish News [Montréal]. 5 September 1991. Paul Lungen. "Promote Jewish Identity. Maccabi Clubs Grow in East Europe."

Canadian Jewish News [Montréal]. 29 August 1991a. "Support Pro-Democracy Forces. Moscow Jews Join Celebrations."

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Canadian Jewish News [Montréal]. 15 August 1991b. "Soviet Jewry. Great Strides in Jewish Education. Three Day Schools Ready to Open Doors on Moscow."

Chicago Action on Soviet Jewry, Chicago. 18 June 1992. Telephone Interview with Representative.

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Einigkeit [Kiev, in Russian]. 1991. No. 3(6). "Zapozdalyi Roman [Outdated Story]."

Einigkeit [Kiev, in Russian]. 1991. No. 2(5). "Yevreiskiye Problemy [Jewish Problems]."

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Gitelman, Zvi. November 1991. "Soviet Jewish Emigration." Conference: "Prospective Immigration and Emigration from the former USSR," RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, CA.

The Globe and Mail [Toronto]. 2 May 1992. "Ukrainian Jew Leaves Canadian Embassy Refuge in Moscow."

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Inter Press Service. 23 March 1992. "Russia: Ukrainian Jew Seeks Asylum from Canadian Embassy." (NEXIS)

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The Jerusalem Post. 8 February 1992. "Poet Under a Spewing Volcano."

The Jerusalem Post. 25 January 1992. Herb Keinon and Alisa Odenheimer. "Jews from Muslim Republics Get Priority."

The Jerusalem Post. 11 January 1992. Abraham Rabinovich. "A Threat, a Promise from Central Asia."

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The Jerusalem Post. 16 November 1991. Herb Keinon. "30% of Soviet Olim Want Out."

The Jerusalem Post. 5 November 1991. Herb Keinon. "Land of Opportunity is Russia, Not Israel, Say Some Aliya Activists."

The Jerusalem Post. 26 October 1991a. David Makovsky. "Moscow Restores Ties with Jerusalem."

The Jerusalem Post. 26 October 1991b. Herb Keinon. "Vilnius Stops Exonerating its Nazi War Criminals."

The Jerusalem Post. 12 October 1991. Surie Ackerman and Walter Ruby. "Soviets Mark Babi Yar Massacre for the First Time."

The Jerusalem Post. 21 September 1991. Walter Ruby and Herb Keinon. "Landsbergis: Joint Groups to Check Rehabilitations."

The Jerusalem Post. 31 August 1991. Walter Ruby. "'Kaddish' in Moscow as Jewish Martyr is Laid to Rest."

The Jerusalem Report. 12 March 1992a. Alexander Lesser. "The Bridge-Builders."

The Jerusalem Report. 12 March 1992b. Neal Sandler. "Cottoning on to Know-How."

The Jerusalem Report. 12 December 1991. Alexander Lesser. "A Practical Friendship."

The Jerusalem Report. 5 December 1991. Felice Maranz. "Raiders of the Lost Arks."

The Jerusalem Report. 28 November 1991. Aleksander Lesser. "Lithuania's Nazi Ghosts."

The Jerusalem Report. 21 November 1991a. Tom Sawicki. "The Nightmare of 1992: One Million Immigrants."

The Jerusalem Report. 21 November 1991b. Yossi Halevi. "Starting Over Again."

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The Jewish Observer [New York]. January 1992a. Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt. "Report from Moscow."

The Jewish Observer [New York]. January 1992b. Rabbi Yaakov Bleich. "Report from Ukraine."

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The Jewish Times [Boston]. 30 August-20 September 1991. "Soviet Jews Opposed Coup. Helped Save Russian Democracy."

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Khadashot [Kiev, in Russian]. 1992b. No. 5. "Virus antisemitizma ne vsegda privodit k epidemii, esli... [The Antisemitic Virus Does Not Always Lead to an Epidemic, If...]."

Khadashot [Kiev, in Russian]. 1991a. No. 4. "Sinagoga ne vzorvalas' [The Synagogue did not blow up]."

Khadashot [Kiev, in Russian]. 1991b. No. 4. "Shto v Khmel'nitskom? [What's happening in Khmelnitskii?]."

Khadashot [Kiev, in Russian]. 1991c. No. 4. "Shto v Nikolaeve? [What's happening in Nikolaev?]."

Khadashot [Kiev, in Russian]. 1991. No. 3. "Melkii Kozyr' v Bol'shoi Igre? [A Small Trump in a Big Game?]."

Khadashot [Kiev, in Russian]. 1991. No. 2. "A Shto u vas? [And what do you have?]."

Minority Rights: Problems, Parameters, and Patterns in the CSCE Context. 1991. Commision on Security and Cooperation in Europe. Washington, D.C.

Moscow News. April 1992. No. 15. Abdullah Nurullayev. "Need to Shape up Religious and Civic Accord."

Moscow News. March 1992. No. 13. "Church: Patriarch Accused of Insulting Religious Feelings."

National Conference on Soviet Jewry, Washington, D.C. 18 June 1992. Telephone Interview with Representative.

The New York Times. 10 February 1992. Clyde Haberman. "Now Free to Leave, Jews in Russia Find Their Choice Harder."

The New York Times. 31 January 1992. Alan Cowell. "Immigration to Israel From Ex-Soviet Lands Falls."

The New Yorker. 27 January 1992. Cullen, Robert. "Report from Ukraine."

The Ottawa Citizen. 2 May 1992. "Russia: Ukrainian Jew Accused of Murder Ends Refuge in Canadian Embassy."

Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). 22 May 1992. RFE/RL Research Report [Munich]. Vol. 1, No. 21. Vera Tolz. "Israel in the Russian Press under Gorbachev and Yeltsin."

Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). 13 March 1992. RFE/RL Research Report [Munich]. Vol. 1, No. 11. "Emigration Data."

Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). 24 January 1992. RFE/RL Research Report [Munich]. Vol. 1, No. 4. "Belarus: Antisemitic Publisher May Face Trial."

Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). 25 October 1991. Report on the USSR [Munich]. Vol. 3, No. 43. "Rehabilitation of 'War Criminals' in Lithuania Suspended."

Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). 18 October 1991. Report on the USSR [Munich]. Vol. 3, No. 42. "Gorbachev and Kravchuk Denounce Antisemitism."

Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). 4 October 1991. Report on the USSR [Munich]. Vol. 3. No. 40. "Lithuania Commemorates Jewish Genocide."

Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). 30 August 1991. Report on the USSR [Munich]. Vol. 3, No. 35. Oxana Antic. "Recent Progress in Jewish Religious Life."

Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). 23 August 1991. Report on the USSR [Munich]. Vol. 3, No. 34. "Moldavia's Jewish Community Gets More Cultural Facilities."

Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). 12 July 1991. Report on the USSR [Munich]. Vol. 3, No. 28. "Moldavia Commemorates Holocaust."

Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). 22 March 1991. Report on the USSR. [Munich]. Vol. 3, No. 12. "All-Union Meeting of Jewish Organizations."

Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). 1 February 1991. Report on the USSR [Munich]. Vol. 3, No. 5. "Second Congress of Soviet Jews."

Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). 18 January 1991. Report on the USSR [Munich]. Vol. 3, No. 12. Roman Solchanyk. "Ukrainian-Jewish Relations: An Interview with Oleksandr Burakovskyi."

Shofar [Lvov, in Ukrainian]. 1991. No. 11. "Postanova [Decree]" and "Telegrama Verkhovnii Radi Ukraini [Telegram to the Supreme Council of Ukraine]."

Sovetskaya Moldova [Kishinev, in Russian]. 16 October 1990. "What is Happening to Us: Is There Anti-Semitism in Moldova?" (FBIS-SOV-90-216 7 November 1990)

Society. May-June 1991. Semyon E. Reznik. "Soviet Jews in the Glasnost Era."

Soviet Jewish Affairs [London]. 1991. Vol. 21, No. 1. Zvi Gitelman. "The Decline of Leninism and the Jews of the USSR."

Soviet Jewish Affairs [London]. 1990. Vol. 20, No. 1. Eitan Finkelstein. "Jewish Revival in the Baltics: Problems and Perspectives."

Svit [Kiev, in Ukrainian]. 1991. Nos. 3-4. "Pamyat zhertv Babinovo Yara [Pamyat Falls Victim to Babi Yar]." (Special Issue. Proceedings of the Conference on Ukrainian-Jewish Relations held in Kiev, 7-8 June 1991.)

The Telegraph Agency of the Soviet Union (TASS). 28 October 1991. "Jewish Community School Opens in Ukrainian Town." (NEXIS)

The Toronto Star. 26 September 1991. "Most Soviets Want Jews Out, New Poll Says."

The Ukrainian Weekly [Jersey City, NJ]. 29 October 1989. "Rukh Against Antisemitism."

Union of Councils of Soviet Jews and Joint Soviet-American Bureau on Human Rights. July 1991. Vol. 3. Assessment of Soviet Compliance with the Vienna Concluding Document. Washington, D.C. and Moscow.

Viewpoints [Montréal]. 20 February 1992. No. 1. Henry Weinberg. "Russia Today: Jewish Identity and New Political Antisemitism."

Vozrozhdeniye '91 [Kiev, in Russian and Ukrainian]. December 1991a. No. 5. "Pamyet Napominaet o sebe [Pamyat is Reminiscent of Itself]."

Vozrozhdeniye '91 [Kiev, in Russian and Ukrainian]. December 1991b. No. 5. "U menya otnoshenie k evreyam cherez lichnoe vospriyatie [My Relations with Jews Are Based on My Personal Experience]."

Yevreiskiye Vesti [Kiev, in Russian]. June-July 1991. "Muzei Sholom-Alekhema v Pereyaslav-Khmel'nitskom [Sholom-Aleikhem Museum in Pereyaslav-Khmelnitskii]."


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