Russia jails Jewish politician with Israeli citizenship for something he said a decade ago

A vocal critic of the invasion of Ukraine, Leonid Gozman was arrested in July and declared a “foreign agent.”

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

A Russian Jewish politician was ordered to serve time in jail on Friday, due to a reference comparing the the Soviet regime to Nazi Germany in an article he wrote some 10 years ago.

Leonid Gozman, a center-right politician who focuses on free market economics and promoting capitalism, harshly criticized communism in a 2013 article.

He was quoted by Russian news outlet Meduza as writing in the piece, “Hitler was an absolute evil, but Stalin was even worse. The SS were criminals, but the NKVD [the Societ secret police] were even more terrible, because [they] murdered their own.

“Hitler unleashed a war against humanity; the communists declared total war against their own people.”

It’s unclear why the article has suddenly generated intense interest from the Russian government nearly a decade after it was published, but authorities have signaled that they are eager to punish Gozman for the text.

Russian authorities detained Gozman in July after returning to Moscow from abroad. Gozman, who also holds Israeli citizenship, has been accused of breaching a law that requires Russian citizens to notify authorities about a foreign citizenship or a residency permit.

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Gozman notified the authorities about his Israeli citizenship but they claimed that he failed to do so within required time.

Earlier this year, Gozman was sentenced to 15 days in prison for the article, but Friday’s ruling saw him sentenced to an additional 15 days.

In a statement released through his daughter, Gozman said he expects repeated prosecutions for the article.

“They arrested me again. I waited for it and decided from the very beginning that I would have to sit not for 15 days, but for a long time, maybe until I die,” read his daughter’s post, according to the Jewish Chronicle.

“I am morally prepared for prison. I am not guilty of anything, neither to the people nor to the country. I was just exercising my natural right to speak the truth about our lives and our authorities.

“I was just doing my civil duty – as much as I could to fight against this inhuman system that condemns Russia and the world to death. I don’t regret a word said.”

The Kremlin is also cracking down on the Jewish Agency and other Jewish organizations operating in Russia.