07/10/2014, 00.00
RUSSIA
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Russian Jews thank Putin for fighting against anti-Semitism

by Nina Achmatova
Mystery surrounds Putin's statement during his meeting with Jewish leaders describing Nazi leader Goebbels as a "talented man".

Moscow (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Russia's Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar thanked Russian President Vladimir Putin for the concern shown by the Russian government in matters of religion and in fighting anti-Semitism.

This comes as the crisis in the Ukraine continues to cast its long shadow whilst Russian propaganda continues to describe the new rulers in the former Soviet republic as Nazis.

The chief rabbi spoke during a meeting in the Kremlin between Putin and Jewish religious leaders from different countries, including Israel, Belgium, Austria, Germany, France, UK and Italy.

According to Lazar, the meeting itself shows how Moscow is concerned about it.

In fact, the rabbi said that Russia is really worried about the threats posed by neo-Nazism, Holocaust deniers and historical revisionism regarding the Second World War.

He appreciated the fact that unlike other countries an open debate on this issue is possible in Russia.

Still Putin's meeting with Jewish leaders did cause some controversy.

According to the Itar-Tass news agency, the president said that leading Nazi Joseph Goebbels was "a talented man, who always achieved his goal."

The reference was to Nazi propaganda's tragic success against the Jews. The Russian leader wanted to condemn Goebbels' idea that "The bigger the lie, the more it will be believed."

However, as soon as Putin's statement appeared on the Itar-tass website it was gone, whilst Jewish leaders denied he had ever uttered those words.

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