Subject: News: Russian Envoy on Immigrants, Peace Process, Iranian Arms
From: Melanie Orhant (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Mon Mar 08 1999 - 10:24:52 EST
Russian Envoy on Immigrants, Peace Process, Iranian Arms
Yedi'ot Aharonot (Tel Aviv), March 1, 1999
Russian Ambassador to Israel Mikhail Bogdanov has lots of complaints. The
ambassador, a Middle East expert in the Russian Foreign Service who served
as ambassador in Lebanon and Syria, has been in Israel for almost two years
and generally feels at home.
That does not mean that everything he sees pleases him. What particularly
pains him is the smuggling of Russian women into Israel to work in
brothels. Russia, he claims, would be happy to halt that ugly trade. "We
asked Israel to help us stop the smuggling of prostitutes and to cooperate
with us on this. To our regret, we have not met with much response."
Those who suffer are not only the girls who practice prostitution, he says,
but all the women who come from Russia, especially those with fair hair,
who are treated badly. "They are stopped at the airport and deported
without any investigation and without summoning a representative from our
consular section," he complains. "What is needed is to take steps against
those who smuggle them in and not against the girls themselves."
But he believes that not only the women suffer. Russian immigrant men are
also treated badly. "They are treated with suspicion, as though they were
all crooks. I find it hard to accept that phenomenon. Recently, we appealed
to the media, various bodies, and political parties with a request to draw
public attention to this phenomenon, which violates human rights."
The Israel Police has permanent working relations with Russia through the
Russian police representative in Israel, who also deals with the
prostitution issue, the police spokesman said in response. "We do not know
anything about the ambassador's complaints. Anyway, if he has such
complaints, he should convey them to us, and we will be happy to help him."
Interior Ministry spokesman Tova Elinson says that the prostitution problem
must be resolved by the police and that charges should be brought against
those who send the women here. Furthermore, we have not received a request
for cooperation on this issue. As to the charge about the suspicious
attitude toward new immigrants, that is definitely not the general picture.
People are suspected only when they arrive in Israel without money, an
address, or a defined purpose, and even then those who deal with them are
policemen and not Interior Ministry officials.
Amb. Bogdanov maintains close ties with the Russian new immigrants. "Our
closest ties are with Yisra'el Ba'aliya and its leaders," he says. "Now
that there is a new immigrants party, we will look for ways to establish
ties with it as well, but as ambassador it is very important for me to know
whether they intend to help us improve our ties with Israel."
[Sarid] It is quite hard to maintain good relations when there are
constantly reports about anti-Semitism in Russia.
[Bogdanov] That has been highly exaggerated. The man-in-the-street does not
hate Jews but just the opposite. Israelis who visited Russia over the past
three years agree with me. Jewish cultural life is currently blossoming in
Russia. Communities are cropping up everywhere; synagogues are being
renovated, and places that don't have any are building them. There is also
a lot of interest in Jewish culture, theater, music, and literature. Not
long ago, a Jewish university with branches in several towns was
established, and a network of institutions to teach Hebrew was set up. A
yeshiva has even been built in Rostov. It is true that occasionally there
are manifestations of anti-Semitism over here, but they are few. These are
mainly racist remarks by parliamentarians; however, in my opinion this does
not stem from anti-Semitism but from political considerations. People grab
headlines by making anti-Semitic statements, and that is what they want.
Politicians are like actors: Even negative publicity is still publicity.
Human Trafficking Program
Global Survival Network
P.O. Box 73214
Washington, DC 20009
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