‘Foreign agent’ – Russia names former Moscow Chief Rabbi as ‘disinformation spreader’

Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt disseminated “false information” about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, according to a Kremlin statement.

By World Israel News Staff

The longtime former Chief Rabbi of Moscow, who fled Russia in March 2022 some two weeks after the invasion of Ukraine, was officially declared a “foreign agent” by the Russian government over the weekend.

Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, who served as the highest authority in the Russian capital’s Jewish community for more than 30 years, disseminated “false information about the decisions made by public authorities of the Russian Federation and their policies,” according to a press statement from the Kremlin.

Being labeled as a “foreign agent” comes with serious implications for Goldschmidt, including that he may face prosecution on criminal charges should he return to Russia.

Goldschmidt responded in a statement posted to his Twitter account that he is “proud to be on the right side of history and to join the list of people opposing this terrible war that has cost the lives of hundreds of thousands.”

He added that “for 30 years, I nurtured and protected Moscow’s Jewish community, and no decision will prevent me from continuing to do so.”

The rabbi stressed that he believes “Russia has turned for the worse,” noting that “this is the first time since the beginning of the war that a religious leader has been declared a foreign agent and defined by the Russian government as a hostile threat.”

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Goldschmidt urged Russian Jews to seek refuge outside the country, charging that the designation is reflective of a new atmosphere of persecution aimed at local Jews.

“It’s very likely that this will mean the start of a new antisemitic campaign against the Jewish community in Russia,” he wrote. I’ve previously called on the local Jewish community to leave the country before it’s too late.”

In January 2023, Goldschmidt told the far-left Guardian newspaper why he had left his post as Chief Rabbi of Moscow during the onset of the war.

“Pressure was put on community leaders to support the war, and I refused to do so,” he told the UK outlet.

“I resigned because to continue as chief rabbi of Moscow would be a problem for the community because of the repressive measures taken against dissidents.”