Wiesenthal Centre to Russian Prosecutor-General: "Condemn, Investigate and Prosecute Antisemitic Video Attacks on Eurovision Song Entry"

Paris, 27 April 2010

In a letter to the Russian Prosecutor-General, Chaika Yuri Yakovlevich, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre's Director for International Relations, Dr.Shimon Samuels, protested a virulently anitisemitic campaign against the singer and entry of the Russian Federation to the forthcoming, 29 May, Eurovision Song Contest in Oslo.

The letter explained that "the song, 'Lost and Forgotten', presented by the group 'Peter Nalitch and Friends', was voted favourite by a 20.9% plurality of Russian viewers and jury in your national contest. The Nalitch group is known for songs based on Russian and Cossack traditional romances. Revenues for their recent disk, 'Pay What You Will', go to charity, as their income is based on concert appearances".

"Nevertheless" lamented the Centre, "the video attacks Nalitch and his music as Jewish: <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LzjmuCbB3dA>

"Europe, we Russians did not vote for this shit – a Jewish song with Jewish singers. Russian mass media, just as oil and gas, are controlled by Jews. All oligarchs in Russia are Jews. They take Russian names and shame us around the world, saying they are Russians. This song and group were chosen by a Jewish TV channel with a Jewish jury…a shame for Russia,for our country, our culture, for all Russians and all Slavic countries. Do not vote for us this year!...".

The letter pointed to another You Tube video as even more virulent, featuring cartoon stereotypes reminiscent of Nazi Germany. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXaX296pARU&feature=watch_response>

The Centre considered that "Russia's 9th May, '65th Victory Day' is tarnished by such offences to the memory of Russian, Jewish and all other innocent victims of World War II. Our Centre urges your office to promptly condemn, investigate and prosecute those responsible".

The letter revealed "an apparently related French language website which states 'Cette video à ètè suprimeè pour infraction aux conditions d'utilization' ('This video has been removed due to terms of use violation')".

"We are confident, Mr. Prosecutor-General, that the provisions of the Russian Constitution, regarding incitement to racial hatred, will provide no less effective treatment of the Russian and English versions of such affronts to your history and civic harmony".

Samuels also pointed out that he "had just returned from a remarkable conference on 'The Lessons of the Second World War – Sixty Five Years Later', co-organized by our Centre and the State University of St. Petersburg, with the support of the St.Petersburg Government and the auspices of UNESCO".

On a personal note, he had voiced at the conference, "as an end-of-the-war British-born Jew", he "acknowledged the millions of Russian victims on the Eastern Front who had indirectly prevented the Nazi invasion of Britain and, consequently, ensured his own family’s survival from the Holocaust taking place on the Continent."

Samuels also stressed "the role of the Red Army in the liberation of the extermination camps, especially Auschwitz-Bikernau on 27 January 1945 – the date marked by the United Nations and globally as Holocaust Commemoration Day."

The letter explained that "the St. Petersburg conference – as a prelude to the 9 May 'Victory over Fascism day' – focussed on tolerance-building in Europe and among the over 100 minorities of the Russian Federation.", continuing "imagine our shock,today, on discovering vicious antisemitic video-clips on You Tube, attacking Russia’s entry into the 29 May Eurovision Song Contest in Oslo."

For further information contact Shimon Samuels on 0033(0)609770158