Russian PM Dmitry Medvedev in Birobidzhan..
(photo credit: REUTERS/Ria Novosti/Kremlin/Dmitry Astakhov)
The World Forum of Russian-speaking Jewry on Monday dismissed a Russian plan to
encourage settlement of Russian expatriates in the former Jewish autonomous
region of Birobidzhan.
Earlier this month Russian Prime Minister Dmitry
Medvedev signed off on a program to offer financial inducements to bring over
2,000 people to the Chinese border region, RIA Novosti
Birobidzhan was established in 1934 to serve as a Jewish
, or ethnic enclave. As of 2010 only around one percent of
Birobidzhan residents was Jewish.
Settlers would receive around $8,000,
covering their relocation expenses, health insurance and other needs,
Alexander Levin, president of the World
Forum of Russian-speaking Jewry, is skeptical of the program.
“We do not
think that today, for the Jews, this initiative is relevant or realistic, as the
Jews in Russia and Ukraine and other post-soviet countries live in big cities
and are economically successful for the most part,” he told The Jerusalem Post
“Jews have a strong and developed State of Israel, and it is
specifically there that they should go to in order to express their Jewish