06MOSCOW262, UPDATE ON ATTACK ON MOSCOW SYNAGOGUE

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW262 2006-01-13 16:52 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO1569
PP RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #0262/01 0131652
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 131652Z JAN 06
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9117
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 000262 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/13/2016 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL SOCI RS
SUBJECT: UPDATE ON ATTACK ON MOSCOW SYNAGOGUE 
 
REF: A. MOSCOW 152 
     B. 05 MOSCOW 3190 
 
Classified By: Ambassador William J. Burns.  For reasons 1.4 (b/d). 
 
1. (C) SUMMARY.  In the aftermath of the January 11 attack on 
a Chabad synagogue in Moscow (ref A), a prosecutor reported 
finding ammunition, a list of synagogues and nationalist 
literature in the home of the attacker.  The prosecutor said 
the attacker was not a member of an extremist organization, 
although media quoted one source as saying that was not the 
case.  Amidst disagreements about the need to strengthen 
legislation against extremism, the Duma planned to consider 
the issue.  Visiting the synagogue for a prayer service on 
January 13, the Ambassador met with its chief rabbi, Itzaak 
Kogan, and other Jewish leaders.  The Ambassador stressed 
that the USG is working on many levels to encourage the GOR 
to make strong statements condemning extremist activity and 
to more actively counter extremist sentiment in Russia.  The 
fact that the prosecution has filed hate crime charges 
against the attacker is important, although civil society 
activists remain concerned that the GOR might eventually opt 
not to press those charges.  END SUMMARY. 
. 
HATE CRIME CHARGES 
------------------ 
 
2. (U) On January 13 Moscow City Prosecutor Anatoliy Zuyev 
confirmed that Aleksandr Koptsev, who attacked the synagogue 
on Bolshaya Bronnaya two days earlier, would be charged with 
crimes motivated by ethnic and religious hatred as well as 
other charges.  Zuyev also announced that a search of 
Koptsev's home had uncovered ammunition, a list of 
synagogues, nationalist literature and "items with the Nazi 
symbol on them" in the attacker's apartment.  Zuyev stated 
that the attacker was not a member of an extremist 
organization, although at least one press report cited an 
anonymous individual's claim that Koptsev was part of a 
Moscow extremist organization called Blood and Honor.  That 
report is unconfirmed. 
 
3. (C) Protestant Bishop Sergey Ryakhovskiy, a Public Chamber 
member, told us January 13 that he had been in contact with 
Berl Lazar, one of two Chief Rabbis of Russia, about ensuring 
that the prosecution would continue to press the hate crime 
charges.  Ryakhovskiy said that he and Lazar, concerned that 
prosecutors might drop those charges and focus only on other 
charges, were considering asking a prominent legal rights NGO 
to track the case. 
 
4. (U) Meanwhile, debate emerged over whether current 
legislation should be strengthened in response to the attack. 
 Following Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov's January 12 comments 
that such a change in legislation might be necessary, Duma 
Security Committee Chair Vladimir Vasilyev argued that 
existing laws provided sufficient grounds to combat 
extremism.  The issue was scheduled for discussion at a 
January 13 plenary session. 
. 
AMBASSADOR VISITS SYNAGOGUE 
--------------------------- 
 
5. (SBU) The Ambassador visited the Chabad synagogue on 
January 13 to participate in a prayer service.  He met with 
the synagogue's Chief Rabbi, Itzaak Kogan, as well as Rabbis 
Boruch Cunin and Yosef Aronov.  Expressing the USG's sympathy 
to the victims of the attack, the Ambassador also said that 
he had raised our concern in meetings on January 12 with 
various GOR officials.  He stressed that the USG would 
continue to strongly encourage the GOR not only to make 
high-level statements condemning extremism but also to work 
more actively to prevent future incidents.  Kogan described 
to the Ambassador past attacks on the synagogue, as well as 
other attacks on Moscow's Jewish community.  Cunin expressed 
hope that USG would actively address the issue with the GOR, 
and the Ambassador assured him that the USG was very engaged. 
 
6. (SBU) Cunin took the opportunity to note his continued 
concern about the Schneerson Collection (ref B and previous). 
 He noted that he hoped once more to mobilize the U.S. 
Congress on the issue. 
 
7. (U) The Israeli Embassy in Moscow reported that Israeli 
Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom expressed concern about the 
incident.  An Israeli Embassy spokesperson also said that the 
Israeli Embassy "is waiting for the Russian authorities to 
take resolute measures to ensure the Jewish community's 
security." 
 
8. (SBU) According to the press, police increased security at 
synagogues throughout Russia.  The press also reported that 
following a meeting with Rabbi Lazar, law enforcement 
 
MOSCOW 00000262  002 OF 002 
 
 
authorities took other steps to combat extremism, including 
improving the mechanism to track distribution of hate crime 
literature.  Consulate Yekaterinburg reported that, according 
to the local press, police stepped up security at 
Yekaterinburg's synagogue.  During the Ambassador's visit to 
the Chabad synagogue, there was no visible Russian police 
presence. 
 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
9. (C) Although it is still unclear whether the attacker was 
a member of an extremist organization, it is increasingly 
clear that he read extremist material and expressed 
anti-Semitic sentiments.  The prosecution's decision to 
pursue hate crime charges against the attacker is 
encouraging; civil society activists plan to track the case 
closely to ensure those charges are not dropped.  The Foreign 
Ministry's January 11 statement about the incident, as well 
as Procurator General's Ustinov's commitment to personally 
oversee the case, was useful. 
BURNS

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