Gov’t Aide Arrested for Bias Attack
MOSCOW (AP) _ Police arrested the aide of a regional governor Tuesday, accusing him of beating a rival politician in an apparent anti-Semitic attack, prosecutors said.
The case raised concern about anti-Semitism among Russian officials and led President Vladimir Putin on Monday to personally request federal law enforcers to look into the beating.
Sergei Maksachev, a former deputy governor in the Kursk region, said he was beaten on Sunday when he went to the residence of regional governor Alexander Mikhailov in Kursk, 300 miles southwest of Moscow.
Maksachev said that an aide to the Mikhailov, Vasily Oleinikov, led him into a room where he and two other men kicked and beat him while shouting anti-Semitic slurs. Russian television showed Maksachev, whose father is Jewish, in a hospital bed, looking weak and gingerly touching his ribs.
Police detained Oleinikov on Tuesday but charges have not been filed, said Natalia Izotova, a spokesman for the Kursk region prosecutor’s office. An investigation of the beating was continuing, she said.
Mikhailov was elected governor on Nov. 5. The incumbent governor, Alexander Rutskoi, was excluded from the ballot by a judge who ruled that he had violated campaign rules.
Last week, Mikhailov came under criticism for saying in an interview that he had defeated not only Rutskoi but also the Russian Jewish Congress, and pointing out that Rutskoi’s mother was Jewish.
Jews in Russia faced systematic discrimination during czarist and Soviet times. In recent years, Jewish activists have pointed to synagogue bombings, the vandalizing of Jewish cemeteries and politicians’ extremist statements as evidence that anti-Semitism remains a problem.