Weekly News Update 
 
 
 
 
WASHINGTON, D.C. September 9, 2016
 

TO: NCSEJ Leadership and Interested Parties
 
FROM: Daniel Rubin, Chairman;
Alexander Smukler, President;
Mark B. Levin, Executive Vice-Chairman & CEO
 
Dear Friend,
 

The United Nations held a high-level forum on anti-Semitism this week, organized by Israel, the U.S., EU, and Canada. U.N. ambassadors discussed the alarming resurgence of anti-Semitism worldwide.
 
Yesterday, Russia’s Foreign Ministry announced that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas have agreed to meet in Moscow to discuss potentially restarting peace talks. The date of the meeting has not yet been set.
 
A Jewish memorial was unveiled in Lviv, Western Ukraine this week. The memorial is a part of the former Golden Rose synagogue complex, and commemorates Jewish life and local Jews killed in the Holocaust. The opening ceremony was attended by members of the Lviv Jewish community, Holocaust survivors, and representatives of embassies and international organizations.
 
Also this week, a Limmud FSU conference took place in  Kazan, the capital of the republic of Tatarstan, Russia. Several hundred participants attended the conference, including members of Kazan’s Jewish community, Tatar and Muslim leaders, prominent politicians, and cultural figures.
 
The update includes several articles discussing the ramifications of the death of Uzbek President Islam Karimov, including the impact on the Uzbekistan Jewish community. Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyoyev will serve as interim president until Uzbekistan holds presidential elections in December.
 
I want to highlight an Atlantic Council article that outlines ten major reforms that the Ukrainian parliament needs to focus on in the near future.
 
The update also includes a very interesting longer piece on Moldova’s progress since its independence. It details many challenges the country has faced, including fragile national identity, irresponsible political leadership, corruption, and the conflict in Transnistria. The article also discusses prospects for Moldova’s transformation.


Sincerely,
 
 
Mark B. Levin
NCSEJ Executive Vice-Chairman & CEO
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
NCSEJ WEEKLY NEWS BRIEF
Washington, D.C. September 9, 2016


At first-ever UN anti-Semitism forum, ambassadors decry resurgence of hatred
JTA, September 8, 2016
 
The United Nations hosted a first-ever high-level forum on anti-Semitism, as U.N. ambassadors criticized the resurgence of anti-Jewish hatred and called for renewed efforts to stop it.
 
The forum Wednesday followed a General Assembly meeting last year and was sponsored by Israel, the United States, Canada and the European Union. Opening the event, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned anti-Semitism and then pivoted to criticizing hatred of minorities in general, and of refugees in particular.
 
“Anti-Semitism is one of the world’s oldest and most pernicious and deadly forms of hatred,” he said. “Despite the lessons of history and horrors of the Holocaust, Jews continue to be targeted for murder and abuse solely because they are Jews.”


 Read the full article here.

600 Attend 2nd Limmud FSU Program in Kazan
September 5, 2016


The second Limmud FSU Volga-Urals conference of Russian-speaking Jews took place this weekend in the Muslim Russian republic of Kazan. Some 600 participants, including Tatar and Muslim leaders, Kazan Jewish communal leaders, Russian and Israeli cultural figures, Israeli politicians and religious leaders, IDF generals and American donors were present.
 
Like last year, the weekend began with the Kazan annual Jewish music festival, headlined by the Israeli band, The Shuk.
 
The Conference featured more than 100 sessions on a broad range of topics including the Russian economy; balancing national security and press freedom; Israel and global instability; and a roundtable on Israeli-Russian trade featuring the Honorary Limmud FSU Volga-Urals Conference Chair and Chair of the Israeli-Russian Business Council, Timor Khikhinashvili; Limmud FSU President Aaron Frenkel; Limmud FSU International Steering Committee Chair Matthew Bronfman; and local business leaders.



Lviv opens Jewish memorial on former historic synagogue
JTA, September 5, 2016
 
The city of Lviv in western Ukraine inaugurated a controversial memorial monument on part of the former Golden Rose Synagogue complex.
 
On Sunday, designated the European Day of Jewish Culture, hundreds attended the unveiling of the Space of Synagogues led by Mayor Andriy Sadovy, despite legal action against the monument by Meylakh Sheykhet, Ukraine’s director of the Union of Councils for Jews in the Former Soviet Union.
 
The project, which is supported by some Jews in Lviv, including the Chesed-Arieh association, features a memorial space with commemorative stone slabs on one area of the 16th-century Golden Rose complex, which the Nazis largely destroyed in the 1940s.



Uzbek chief rabbi: No worries for Jewish community after death of president
JTA, September 4, 2016
 
Uzbekistan’s Jews are not worried for their future after the death of the country’s longtime president Islam Karimov, the country’s chief rabbi said.
 
The Uzbek strongman, who ruled his Central Asian Muslim nation with an iron fist until he died lsat week at the age of 78, “prepared the country well and its security forces are drilled in a case where he would no longer be around to rule,” Rabbi Baruch Abramzaiov told JTA Sunday, a day after Karimov’s funeral in the city of Samarkand. The government has not named a successor.
 
“The president had excellent relations with the Jewish community, in part because he went to school with many of its members and had many friends from its ranks, and this situation is expected to continue,” said Abramzaiov, a 45-year-old father of six who is based in Tashkent.
He said he is the only rabbi and one of very few spiritual leaders catering to the needs of a dwindling community of 13,000 Jews in a country that had 95,000 Jews in 1989.


 Read the full article here.

Kremlin: New U.S. Sanctions ‘Not Consistent’ With Talks Over Cooperation
RFE/RL, September 7, 2016
 
The Kremlin says expanded U.S. sanctions against Russia are not consistent with talks over possible cooperation between Russia and the United States.
 
"This is not consistent with talks over possible cooperation in sensitive areas that the two presidents discussed," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on September 7.
 
Russian President Vladimir Putin and his U.S. counterpart, Barack Obama, met on the sidelines of the G20 summit in China earlier this week.
 
Obama described the meeting as “businesslike” and said it touched upon ongoing negotiations between their top diplomats over Syria.
 
Putin said he and the U.S. president took another step forward on moving to resolve the crisis in Syria.


Read the full article here.

EU extends travel bans, asset freezes on Russia
Reuters, September 7, 2016
 
The European Union extended on Wednesday part of its sanctions against Russia over Moscow's annexation of Crimea and its role in the crisis in Ukraine, diplomats said.
 
The EU's travel bans and asset freezes, which were due to expire on Sept. 15, were extended for six months and cover some 150 people and 37 entities involved in the turmoil in Crimea and eastern Ukraine.
 
Rebels as well as some Russian officials, lawmakers and oligarchs are on the EU list, as are two celebrities who have given vocal support to separatists in east Ukraine.


Read the full article here.

Russia Starts Military Drills On Ukraine’s Border, In Annexed Crimea
RFE/RL, September 05, 2016
 
Moscow has launched large-scale military drills on Ukraine's eastern border and around Ukraine’s Russia-annexed Crimean Peninsula.
 
The Russian Defense Ministry said September 5 that 12,500 servicemen are taking part in the drills across its southern military region. It said the Russian Navy in the Black Sea and Caspian Sea are participating in the exercises and that planes also are being used.
 
The six-day exercises will test the army's ability to "plan, prepare, and carry out military actions," the ministry said in a statement.
 
Russia last month conducted a large-scale snap drill, putting its troops on full combat readiness in military districts bordering Ukraine and the Baltic states.


 
Read the full article here.

U.S. agrees to help enhance Ukrainian forces, dispatches adviser
Reuters, September 8, 2016
 
The United States and Ukraine on Thursday agreed to cooperate on defense technology and improve Ukraine's forces in a move aimed at boosting Ukrainian defense and enhancing U.S. assistance, the Pentagon said.
U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter also named naming a senior U.S. adviser to oversee the effort.
 
Carter and Ukrainian Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak signed the partnership agreement at a meeting in London in which they also discussed the conflict in eastern Ukraine, where Ukrainian government forces confront Russian-backed separatists.
 
The partnership aims "to enhance the defense capacity of Ukraine's forces, advance critical Ukrainian defense reforms, improve resource management processes and boost defense technology cooperation," the Pentagon said in a statement following the meeting.

 
Read the full article here.

Moscow Says Levada Center Listed As 'Foreign Agent' Due To U.S. Funding
RFE/RL, September 6, 2016
 
Russia's Justice Ministry says its decision to place the independent national pollster the Levada Center on its official register of organizations "operating as foreign agents" was made due to financial support the pollster received from the United States.
 
TASS news agency quoted the ministry as saying on September 6 that "the major part of financial support the Levada Center has received is from the United States, including the University of Wisconsin in Madison, and therefore it was added to the list of 'foreign agents.'"
 
The Russian Justice Ministry announced on September 5 that it had placed the Levada Center on its official register of organizations "operating as foreign agents," potentially threatening the existence of the widely respected research group.
 
The group is one of the largest Russian nongovernmental polling and sociological research organizations and has conducted surveys that might have irked Russian authorities.



Uzbekistan Names Longtime PM Mirziyaev Interim President
RFE/RL, September 8, 2016
 
Uzbekistan's parliament has appointed Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyaev as interim president following the death of strongman leader Islam Karimov, setting the long-serving government chief up as the clear favorite to win a five-year term in an election due to held by December.
 
A statement on the government website said the decision was made at a joint session of the upper and lower parliament houses on September 8, six days after the announcement of Karimov's death following a stroke left Uzbekistan with no formal head of state.
 
Mirziyaev's appointment veered away from the system laid out in the Central Asian state's constitution, which says that the chairman of the upper parliament chamber, the Senate, assumes presidential authority for three months if the president dies or is unable to perform his or her duties.
 

Read the full article here.

Where Does Uzbekistan Go After The Death Of Its Only President?
By Agnia Grigas
Newsweek, September 8, 2016
 
The death of Uzbekistan’s first and only President, Islam Karimov, who has been running the country with an iron first for more than twenty-five years, marks the end of an era for the country. The most populous and second largest Central Asian state now faces a transition period that could include instability due to domestic and regional risks such Islamic extremism, societal pressures for more freedom, and a rebalancing of relations with Russia, China, and the United States.
 
While Uzbekistan has not garnered much attention in the West unlike the region’s largest and wealthiest country, Kazakhstan, or gas-rich neighbor, Turkmenistan, the nation of 35 million people shares a border with all of the other four Central Asian states as well as Afghanistan and remains an unknown quantity in the fragile and strategic region. Today, there is uncertainty about who will succeed Karimov. The frontrunner includes the long-serving Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyoyev who was announced interim president on Thursday though other candidates like his deputy Rustam Azimov, or head of security services Rustam Inoyatov cannot be ruled out. However, the late president’s daughters, Lola-Karimova-Tillyaeva and the once-powerful Gulnara Karimova have been sidelined.
 


Armenian PM Resigns; Party Nominates Gazprom Executive
Voice of America, September 8, 2016
 
Armenian Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan resigned Thursday, saying the country needed fresh policies, after his government struggled with an economic slowdown and protests in the capital earlier this year.
 
His announcement paved the way for the cabinet to resign and the president to appoint a new prime minister following consultations with parliament.
 
"We need a new approach, new start. That's why I've decided to resign and let the president form a new government," Abrahamyan said.
 
Artak Zakaryan, a deputy from the ruling Republican Party, told reporters Armenian President Serzh Sarksyan had accepted Abrahamyan's resignation.


The Top Ten Things Ukraine’s Parliament Needs to Do This Fall
By Olena Halushka
Atlantic Council, September 6, 2016
 
Over the last two and a half years, Ukraine has channeled the energy of the Euromaidan protests into building a new state, and has achieved a number of major accomplishments. However, much more remains be done. The delay in implementing crucial reforms is equivalent to stopping halfway, while the slow rate of change is already deepening society’s frustration toward government authorities. Despite the ruling coalition’s fragility in parliament, civil society activists hope MPs will unite over crucial initiatives to ensure the passage of these ten changes:
 
Granting the National Anticorruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) independent wiretapping powers, as laid out in bill No. 4812. So far, NABU detectives are limited in their ability to intercept communications during their investigations; they have to work through the Security Service of Ukraine, which significantly increases the risk of confidential information being leaked and substantially affects the effectiveness of their investigations.
 
Providing a legal basis for the creation of specialized anti-corruption courts. The establishment of a Supreme Anti-Corruption Court is provided for by a new law that was adopted together with constitutional amendments regarding the judiciary on June 2, 2016. However, these provisions are not enough. The effectiveness of NABU and the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office (SAP) in prosecuting corrupt officials largely depends on the courts. The creation of special anti-corruption courts for top corruption cases is crucial; judges should be selected transparently through open competition with the participation of representatives from international organizations. In addition, special security measures should be put into place to protect anti-corruption judges’ lives and families.


Putin’s gamble on Russia’s Duma elections
By Nikolay Petrov
European Council on Foreign Relations, September 8, 2016
 
Putin has sought to improve the apparent transparency of the electoral process while simultaneously strengthening the chance of a United Russia win. But pulling the election date forward delivers a short term benefit at the expense of longer term risk.
 
The forthcoming Duma elections are the first of the new, post-Crimean annexation era and the first elections since 2003 to use the mixed electoral system. They also provide an important opportunity to jump-start Russia’s stalled political modernisation process. So why are they so boring to watch? Because after years of Vladimir Putin’s ruling United Russia party, neither the campaign nor the election result is going to surprise anyone.
 
This year, the upcoming Duma elections have been inexplicably moved from December to September – a move that has led the Communist party to raise an appeal to the Constitutional court. The government offered the reasoning that elections should be moved so that they are in line with the budgetary process, but few people bought this explanation. Russian law dictates that any decree to shorten the campaigning period by moving the election date forward must be signed 90-110 days before election day. Putin passed this decree at the very last minute – just 92 days prior to the day of the vote.



What Putin Didn't Get In Hangzhou
By Brian Whitmore
RFE/RL, September 8, 2016
 
One of the most significant things about the G20 summit was something that didn't happen.
 
Hangzhou didn't become Yalta. China didn't become Munich.
 
But Vladimir Putin sure wanted it to.
 
In fact, Russia's actions in and around Ukraine over the past month appear to have been, at least in part, a big psy-op in the run-up to the summit.
 
Moscow ginned up a fake crisis in Crimea in August, accusing Ukraine of sending a team of agent saboteurs to the annexed peninsula to carry out terrorist acts.
 
Feigning outrage, the Kremlin then abruptly pulled out of planned four-party talks with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and French President Francois Hollande.
 

Read the full article here.

Two More Chechens Appear To Fall Victim To Kadyrov's Intolerance
By Liz Fuller
RFE/RL, September 8, 2016

Just over a week has elapsed since Human Rights Watch (HRW) unveiled its new report chronicling the Chechen authorities' relentless suppression of any criticism of acting Chechen Republic head Ramzan Kadyrov, and already two more victims have been added to the dozens of earlier cases on which that report is based.
 
They are Zhalaudi Geriyev, a freelance journalist for the news portal Caucasian Knot, who was sentenced on September 6 to three years in a labor camp on a dubious charge of illegal possession of a large quantity of drugs; and political commentator Ruslan Martagov.
 
Geriyev was apprehended in mid-April while traveling by minibus taxi from his home village to Grozny, from where he planned to fly to Moscow to participate in a conference on the media and the Constitutional Court. He was roughed up, searched, and subsequently charged with possession of 160 grams of marijuana that he had allegedly harvested the previous summer.
 

Read the full article here.

Moldova. 25 years of state of emergency
By Kamil Całus        
New Eastern Europe, September 5, 2016
 
Since the very beginning of its independent existence, the Republic of Moldova has been a unique state in the post-Soviet space. As the only Soviet republic, Moldova declared independence (on August 27th, 1991) not in order to build its own political future, but to become part of another country - Romania. The unification project collapsed, however (due to the outbreak of civil war, subsequent disintegration of the state and the lack of interest in the project in Romania), and the young state suddenly found herself in an ideological vacuum.
 
Moldovan statehood remains fragile and, one may argue, temporary, as it displays attributes typical for the so-called failing states. Devoid of effective and responsible political class, efficient political, party and legal system, as well as stable economy and coherent, commonly acceptable national idea, Moldova is not able to finish the process of transformation which began quarter of a century ago.
 
Identity crisis and its consequences
 
Moldovan political and intellectual elites proved incapable to build a common, coherent, and unifying national idea, or develop an attractive identity model for all residents of the country regardless of ethnic origin. At the same time successive ruling majorities regularly used identity arguments in order to mobilise the electorate. As a result, despite a quarter-century of independence, the process of shaping of full-fledged Moldovan political nation is still far from completion.

Read the full article here.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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About NCSEJ
Founded in 1971, NCSEJ represents the organized American Jewish community in monitoring and advocating on behalf of the estimated 1.5 million Jews in Eastern Europe and Eurasia, including the 15 successor states of the former Soviet Union.
 
 
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