Machkevich to resign as WJC Euro-Asian branch head

One of the world's richest Jews, Israeli-Kazakh billionaire says he wants to devote more time to creating Jewish "Al-Jazeera."

By GIL STERN STERN SHEFLER
June 22, 2011 02:49
2 minute read.
Alexander Mashkevitch

MASHKEVITCH 311. (photo credit: Ron Friedman)

One of the richest men in the world has decided to step down from the Jewish organization he founded, and focus on creating a news television station, and growing his other businesses, The Jerusalem Post learned on Tuesday.

A source close to Israeli- Kazakh billionaire Alexander Machkevich said he will resign from the presidency of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress in September, and elections will be held to fill the position.

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“Machkevich made the decision because of the responsibility he has undertaken to build a new television station – and after helming the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, which has 25 affiliates, for 10 years,” the source said. “On the one hand he wants to focus on other businesses, on the other, to nurture the next generation of Jewish leaders.”

Born in 1954 into a Jewish family in Kyrgyzstan, which was then part of the Soviet Union, Mashkevitch grew closer to his Jewish identity as an adult after he made a fortune in the mining industry of Kazakhstan.

In 2002, he created the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, one of the five branches of the World Jewish Congress.

As its founder and president, he donated millions to Jewish charities and causes in the former Soviet Union, including buying and renovating the grave of Rabbi Nahman in Uman, Ukraine, which attracts thousands of Jewish pilgrims each year.

Several months ago, Mashkevitch announced his intention to create a news television station that received the unofficial moniker “Jewish Al-Jazeera,” after the media outlet he said it would balance.

On Tuesday, sources said the project is rolling full steam ahead and that more details will be announced in September.

They said that despite the original publicity, it will not have a strong political bent, but seek to be objective.

Asked if other factors may have influenced his decision to step down, the source said Mashkevitch’s sole considerations were the news television station, his businesses and letting younger leaders take front stage.

Sources close to Mashkevitch said he would continue to give to charity through his foundation, but weren’t sure whether he would continue to foot the bill for the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress.

“It’s unclear whether he’ll continue to give to the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, but there are enough serious people to make sure that it continues to thrive,” the source said.

The leading candidate to replace Mashkevitch at the helm of the Jewish organization is Russian businessman Alexander Bronstein, currently a vice president of the World Jewish Congress.

The ability of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress to maintain its current level of activity will depend on his successor’s ability and willingness to invest in it the way Mashkevitch – whose fortune was estimated by Forbes at $3.7 billion – has done.

The World Jewish Congress said it had no comment on Tuesday.


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