Sunday, January 30, 2011


In the last week of 2010, in judicial decisions rendered within 24 hours of each other, the corruption of the Russian legal system was exposed for the world to see as the rule of law in Israel was reaffirmed. In one case a Russian Jewish oligarch was tried on "new" charges with the Russian Prime Minister opining as to the defendant's guilt while the judge considered the verdict; in Israel, the country's former President, having rejected a plea deal that was no more than a tap on the wrist, was found guilty of felony rape among other charges.

In the "new" Russia, trials of those out of favor with the Government raise serious questions about that nation's democratic processes. As our State Department said: "We remain concerned by the allegations of serious due process violations, and what appears to be an abusive use of the legal system for improper ends." While in Israel, President Shimon Peres, commenting on the Katsav conviction, observed that in Israel "all are equal before the law."

Then, earlier this month the National Conference on Soviet Jewry reported on the case of Arkady Gontmakher, "an American Jewish businessman of Ukrainian descent," who was finally before a Russian court "...after 39 months of pre-trial detention." Accused of involvement in a criminal ring involved in illegal poaching of king crab, the Bellevue, Washington business man, surprisingly, was found to be innocent. Was he allowed to rejoin his family and receive treatment for a life-threatening heart condition? No. He "...was leaving the courthouse (when) local authorities attempted to rearrest him on the same charges." He has been prevented from leaving the country. Justice, Russian style.

In a Forward article on the Khodorovsky "trial," Mark Levin, the chief professional officer of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry, concluded: "Jews thrive in open and free societies and have greater opportunities to thrive. When we look at Russia today, we do have some concerns. Can the current atmosphere be sustained under current conditions? How will the the Russian government deal with what has been a large increase in xenophobia and ultra-nationalism? All this will go a long way to determining the future of the Jewish community." If the Jewish future in Russia is in any way in jeopardy, this is our concern -- and, therefor, the concern of the Jewish Agency, our agent. Is it?

Contrast and compare.


No comments: