Chairman of the Duma Sergey Naryshkin and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein.
(photo credit: COURTESY KNESSET SPEAKER'S OFFICE)
At a press conference with Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, Russian State Duma Chairman Sergey Naryshkin said his country was concerned about the situation in Ukraine, and particularly the anti-Semitic declarations by radical groups.
Naryshkin met separately on Wednesday with Edelstein and President Shimon Peres.
Speaking about the Ukrainian government, the Duma chairman said that “every government wants stability and must be based on law and order and unquestionable legitimacy.
“I believe in the Ukrainian people’s choice. They are a very close nation [to Russia], like brothers, and we plan to continue cooperating with it,” he said, going on to describe the current conflict in Ukraine as “a tragedy.”
Edelstein told Naryshkin he was sure their two parliaments would strengthen ties for the good of both countries.
“We would like to further develop relations between our countries,” Naryshkin responded. “I am convinced that we can find new ideas as to how our parliaments can contribute to that effort.”
Edelstein and Naryshkin said they both planned to commemorate 70 years since the end of World War II and to honor Red Army veterans.
The Nazis inflicted heavy casualties on both the Jews and the Russians during the Second World War, Naryshkin said, and the truth of what happened then must be preserved and passed on. He said he wanted to form a representative group for this purpose.
“We discussed efforts to rewrite the history of World War II and the Holocaust, a time period that had a major influence on the Jewish and Russian people,” Edelstein said.
Edelstein discussed international cooperation to prevent attempts to limit freedom of religion, such as kosher slaughter and circumcision.
Naryshkin commended Israel for returning to the negotiating table with the Palestinians, saying it would benefit the entire region if they could settle their differences, and that Russia is eager to see a satisfactory political resolution to the conflict.
At his meeting with President Shimon Peres at his official residence, Naryshkin also conveyed President Vladimir Putin’s regards and said that in Russia, Peres is recognized as a great statesman who has made an impact on the peace process and has contributed to relations between the countries.
They complement each other and have similar attitudes toward numerous international issues, said Naryshkin.
One member of Naryshkin’s entourage was of particular interest in the Knesset: State Duma Deputy Vice President Vladimir Zhirinovsky. Zhirinovsky is known for his white supremacist views and has made anti-Israel comments in the past. In Zhirinovsky’s 2001 autobiography Ivan Close Your Soul, a copy of which he gave to Edelstein on Wednesday, the Russian politician revealed that his father is Jewish, but wrote that he wouldn’t “fall in love with the Jewish people only because of that single drop of blood my father left in my mother’s body.”
Still, Zhirinovsky told reporters following the Edelstein-Naryshkin press conference that he visited his father’s grave in Holon.