Putin fires official who called Chabad a 'neo-pagan cult'

Putin did not specify why he dismissed Alexei Pavlov from his role as assistant secretary of Russia's security council.

 Thousands of Shluchim pose for a “class picture” outside Chabad World Headquarters (photo credit: Shalom Burkis - Kinus.com)
Thousands of Shluchim pose for a “class picture” outside Chabad World Headquarters
(photo credit: Shalom Burkis - Kinus.com)

Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed Alexei Pavlov, the official who labeled Chabad as a "neo-pagan cult," from his position as the assistant secretary of Russia's security council. The Russian state TASS news agency reported that the Kremlin published its decision on Friday.

The Russian news agency reports that Pavlov will now be moving on to another job after having served as the Assistant Secretary of the Security Council since 2009.

The reasons for Pavlov's dismissal were unstated by the document announcing the move.

Pavlov calls Chabad neo-pagan in op-ed

Pavlov published an op-ed wherein he claimed that “neo-pagan cults [have] gained strength in Ukraine." One of the supposed "cults" listed was the Chabad Lubavitch movement.

According to the Russian publication, the Daily Storm, Pavlov's piece called for the "desatanization" of Ukraine. Furthermore, the publication writes that, according to Pavlov, it was extremist adherents to non-traditional religious sects of Christianity, Islam and Judaism that were primarily responsible for the alleged cruelty and corruption that Russia cited as a casus belli.

 The Kremlin, Moscow (credit: Wikimedia Commons) The Kremlin, Moscow (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Pavlov went on in his article to claim that "the main life principle of the Lubavitcher followers is the supremacy of the sect's supporters over all nations and peoples."

The article immediately generated outcry in Russia's Jewish community, including Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar who called Pavlov's words "vulgar antisemitism."

Shortly after the article making the statement about Chabad was published, Nikolai Patrushev, a high-ranking official for the security council, released a statement apologizing for the incident.

“I apologize for the op-ed, which contained several erroneous statements about the followers of Chabad-Lubavitch,” Patrushev wrote. “This interpretation represented only Alexey Pavlov’s personal point of view and in no way represents that of the Security Council of Russia. Talks have been had with the writer of the op-ed.”