The hearing on the closure of the Russian office of the Jewish Agency was postponed mby a month, Russian media reported on Friday, with the Basmanny Court of Moscow setting September 19 as the new date.
According to the report, this decision was made by Judge Olga Lipkina at the request of the agency’s lawyers, who asked for time to study the documents submitted by the claimant’s representative on Friday.
However, the court denied its request for a mediation process outside of the court.
Why did the Russian court postpone the Jewish Agency closure case, deny outside mediation process?
After the meeting, Jewish Agency attorney Andrey Grishaev said there is still “hope for reconciliation” within a month.
“I hope everything will be fine. However, everything depends not only on us,” he said to BFM.Ru.
“I hope everything will be fine. However, everything depends not only on us.”Jewish Agency lawyer Andrey Grishaev
Grishaev asked the court to suspend the proceedings and appoint a two-month conciliation procedure. “We are confident that it will benefit the parties or even remove the claims that were brought against us,” he said.
However, the representative of the Russian Justice Ministry objected, believing that “there were no grounds for reconciliation,” according to the report.
According to Russian media, the judge rejected this request but postponed the hearing so that the defendant’s representatives could study new documents submitted by the ministry.
Grishaev said that since the pre-trial conversation in court on July 28, the agency had taken “a set of measures to remove possible claims” against it.
The agency had hoped for a mediation process and was disappointed that it wasn’t approved by the judge.
Background: What is going on with Russia and the Jewish Agency?
Russia announced last month that it wanted to close the Jewish Agency’s offices in the country and cease all of its operations on Russian soil.
As exclusively reported by The Jerusalem Post, the Russian Justice Ministry in June sent a letter to the agency’s Moscow office saying it would be considered a "foreign agent."
This followed a three-year investigation of its operations by Russian officials, with Russia claiming the Jewish Agency illegally collected information on Russian citizens.
The decision was met with outrage by both Russian Jews and Israeli government officials, who fear that it could harm the ability of Jews in Russia to make aliyah.
The exact reasons behind Moscow’s desire to shut down the Jewish Agency are murky, as Russian officials haven’t released any background information – not even to President Isaac Herzog in his recent conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Israeli diplomatic sources explained to the Post.
Some have cited Israeli criticism of Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine as a possible reason, while others have pointed to its claims for the return of Alexander’s Courtyard in Jerusalem (Alexander Nevsky Church). However, during talks about the Jewish Agency, Russia hasn’t actually demanded Israel change any of this.
Regardless, preparations are already underway should the worst happen, with Israel considering a vastly expedited aliyah process for Russian Jewry.
The Jewish Agency is prepared to operate entirely online or by phone in Israel while still sending funds or teachers to Russia when needed.
Greer Fay Cashman contributed to this report.