President Vladimir Putin of Russia elicited sharp blowback when he claimed that even though individuals with Russian citizenship may have worked to interfere in the 2016 US elections, they may not actually have been Russian because of their Jewish faith.
Putin made the remarks during a long interview with NBC News host Megyn Kelly that aired on Saturday. When Kelly asked him about the 13 Russian nationals indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller for interfering in the election, Putin claimed that even though the individuals could have had Russian citizenship, they might not have been Russian after all.
“Maybe they’re not even Russians,” Putin said. “Maybe they’re Ukrainian, Tatars, Jews — just with Russian citizenship.”
Tatars are a native non-European people who live in Russia. Putin’s claim that someone who is not ethnically Russian cannot truly be Russian despite having citizenship elicited a sharp outcry from Jewish groups in particular who stated that his suggestion was anti-Semitic.
“President Putin bizarrely has resorted to the blame game by pointing the finger at Jews and other minorities in his country,” Anti-Defamation League chief executive Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement. “It is deeply disturbing to see the Russian president giving new life to classic anti-Semitic stereotypes that have plagued his country for hundreds of years, with a comment that sounds as if it was ripped from the pages of the ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion.'”