The Russia connectionPutin: “Jews” with Russian citizenship may have meddled in U.S. election

Published 12 March 2018

In a weekend interview on NBC News, President Vladimir Putin, in an effort to deflect attention from the role the Kremlin’s hackers and disinformation specialists played in meddling in the 2016 U.S. election, said that such meddling was probably the work of “Jews” or other minorities in the Russian Federation. American Jewish organizations criticized Putin for giving voice to conspiracy theories which were at the core of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, an anti-Semitic fabricated text, first published in Russia in 1903, purporting to describe a Jewish plan for global domination.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) voiced deep concern at remarks by Russian President Vladimir Putin suggesting Jews and other minorities in the Russian Federation could be behind the meddling in the 2016 U.S. elections.

Putin, asked in an interview with NBC News if the hacking was sponsored by the Russian government, stated: “Maybe they’re not even Russians. Maybe they’re Ukrainians, Tatars, Jews, just with Russian citizenship. Even that needs to be checked. Maybe they have dual citizenship. Or maybe a green card. Maybe it was the Americans who paid them for this work. How do you know? I don’t know.”

Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO, issued the following statement:

As the Russian government faces expanding evidence and new questions about possible meddling in U.S. elections, President Putin bizarrely has resorted to the blame game by pointing the finger at Jews and other minorities in his country.

It is deeply disturbing to see the Russian president giving new life to classic anti-Semitic stereotypes that have plagued his country for hundreds of years, with a comment that sounds as if it was ripped from the pages of the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”

We live in a moment when anti-Semitic violence is on the rise and words can have profound consequences, particularly when spoken by public figures or elected officials like President Putin. We hope he swiftly clarifies his words before they cause further damage to those communities he has singled out.

American political leaders were quick to denounce Putin’s anti-Semitic comment.

“Repulsive Putin remark deserves to be denounced, soundly and promptly, by world leaders. Why is Trump silent? Intolerance is intolerable,” Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) tweeted.

Senator Tim Kaine (D-Virginia), tweeted: “Putin suggests Jews are to blame for Russian election interference. Why does our President still cover for this anti-Semitic dictator?”

Ronald Klain, a former Democratic congressman from Florida, tweeted: “Every Jewish supporter of Donald Trump should be pressing the WH to see if the President agrees with his friend Putin on this statement. And every Jewish person resisting Trump just got another reason to fight even harder.”