Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Putin and the Jews

The op-ed “Save the New Ukraine” in the New York Times by Bernard-Henri Levy and George Soros ( makes me wonder what prominent Jews are up to regarding Ukraine and Russia.  Levy, who is supposed to be a French philosopher, was the man behind the ouster of Kaddafi in Libya, which has led to much chaos and bloodshed.  He no doubt relished the humiliating death of Kaddafi and the ensuing Arab on Arab bloodletting in Libya.  So, now what violence and chaos does he want to create in Ukraine and Russia?  Soros, an extremely wealthy and powerful Jew, lends his name to this enterprise, whatever it is.  To the extent that Ukraine separates from Russia and joins the West, it weakens Russia.  Putin realizes he is in trouble, but is being pressed on so many sides that he is having difficulty dealing with the situation. 

There is clearly a Jewish issue in Ukraine.  Ukraine has the third largest Jewish community in Europe and the fifth largest in the world, more than 250,000.  Before World War II there were over one million Jews in Ukraine.  (  So, it makes sense for Jews to concern themselves about Ukraine, not just from an international relations perspective, but from a Jewish racial perspective. 

Meanwhile, Jews played an outsized roll in the creation of the Communist state back in the early 1900s.  Then 75 years later, many (about half) of the billionaire oligarchs created by the destruction of the Communist state were Jews.  It’s these Jewish oligarchs who I think are a thorn in Putin’s side and likely to be shoved out in favor of KGB and old party types who are closer to him.  In 2007, the Guardian wrote (

in a country where anti-Semitism is still rife and openly expressed, nationalist rabble-rousers have made much of the fact that of the seven oligarchs who controlled 50% of Russia's economy during the 1990s, six were Jewish: Berezovsky, Vladimir Guzinsky, Alexander Smolensky, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Mikhail Friedman and Valery Malkin. 

The 2007 Guardian article goes on to say that some of the Jewish oligarchs were replaced by Slavs who were closer to Putin.  The 2007 oligarchs included Roman Abramovich, Oleg Deripaska, Mikhail Khodorkovsky (a Jew who ended up in jail), Boris Berezovsky (a Jew who lives in London as Putin’s enemy), Mikhail Prokhorov, Viktor Vekselberg, and Mikhail Friedman (a Ukrainian Jew then on decent terms with Putin). 

A 2012 Jerusalem Post ( article, “At Putin’s Side, an Army of Jewish Billionaires” described the unveiling of the Red Army monument in Netanya, Israel.  With Putin were Mikhail Friedman, Moshe Kantor, as well as several other wealthy Russian Jews who now live in Israel. 

Businessmen who have long been close to Putin are “on the periphery now,” said Sergei Markov, a political consultant who helped monitor the referendum in Crimea that led to Russia’s annexation of the peninsula in March.
The core group around Putin is led by Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev, Federal Security Service head Alexander Bortnikov, Foreign Intelligence Service chief Mikhail Fradkov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, according to Markov.

It will be interesting to see how Putin’s relationship develops with Russia’s Jewish oligarchs as he comes under increasing international pressure from the West.  Will he trust the Jews to continue to support him?  The Jews close to him will come under increasing financial pressure from Western sanctions, which may make them rethink their support for Putin. 

 Meanwhile, what to powerful, influential Jews like Levy and Soros have in mind.  Jews play an important roll in financial activities throughout the world.  They will be very involved in sanctions on Russia, and thus on at least some of their fellow Jews.  If Putin is making it more difficult for Jewish oligarchs in Russia, will the Jewish financial community act together to try to force him out.  If he perceives that they are trying to do that, how will he react?  If they were trying to do something sneaky to Putin, they would hardly call attention to it by writing an op-ed in the New York Times. .  But Putin must know that Levy succeeded having Kaddafi killed and throwing Libya into bloody chaos. 


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