Israeli citizen sentenced to prison in Russia for comparing Stalin to Hitler

Leonid Gozman, who is Jewish and holds Israeli citizenship, was also labeled a “foreign agent.”

By Associated Press

A Moscow court on Tuesday handed a 15-day prison sentence to a Jewish politician who drew parallels between Soviet dictator Josef Stalin’s regime and Nazi Germany.

Leonid Gozman, 72, was sentenced for his 2020 Facebook post, in which he mocked the Russian legislation that banned likening the Soviet Union to Nazi Germany, saying that “it’s wrong to put an equal mark between them — Hitler was an absolute evil and Stalin even worse.”

On Tuesday, Moscow’s Tverskoy District Court ruled that Gozman’s remark violated the law.

Gozman, a vocal critic of the Kremlin’s campaign in Ukraine, left Russia when it started but returned in June in what he has described as a “moral” choice.

The Russian Justice Ministry has listed him as a “foreign agent,” a description that carries a strong pejorative meaning and implies additional government scrutiny.

He was briefly detained by police in July after the Russian Interior Ministry issued a warrant for his arrest while investigating a criminal case against him.

Gozman, who is Jewish and holds Israeli citizenship, was accused of breaching the law that requires Russian citizens to notify authorities about a foreign citizenship or a residency permit. Gozman said he notified the authorities about his Israeli citizenship but they claimed that he failed to do so within the required time.

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The investigation in that case is still ongoing and Gozman could be sentenced to a fine or community work if found guilty.