Solodkin boycotts Kadima event for Russians

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert hosted more than 100 top Kadima activists from the Russian olim community at his official residence in Jerusalem on Wednesday night, but the party's most senior MK from the sector, Marina Solodkin, boycotted the event. Solodkin froze her activity in the party more than a year ago after Olmert failed to appoint her a minister despite her being No. 5 on the party's candidates list and after many promises made to the immigrants were broken. She said she was originally not invited to Wednesday's event, but after the press published this fact, she received a call inviting her from "a secretary of a secretary." "I didn't go because I didn't want to say I support the party after all the promises to us were broken," Solodkin said. "Many party activists hesitated about whether to go. Many just went because they wanted to run for city councils on lists supported by Kadima." Solodkin lambasted those activists who did attend as sycophants paying homage to Olmert without examining Kadima's failure to make headway in the Russian sector. "To praise Olmert is to lie to themselves and to the prime minister as well," Solodkin said. Olmert and Immigrant Absorption Minister Ya'acov Edri used the event to announce that cuts in Edri's ministry planned for the 2008 state budget had been restored. Several Russian activists spoke at the event, lauding Olmert and his handling of the immigrants. "The prime minister understands the significance of the Russian sector and is personally involved," said Robert Abayev, an Ofakim councilman who recently shifted from Israel Beiteinu to Kadima along with his entire party branch. "We are ready to help you," he said. "We were in sectarian parties and we don't want that anymore." Ashdod Deputy Mayor Boris Gitterman added that it was "not true that Kadima is unpopular on the Russian street." He described a political rally he hosted last week that was attended by 600 people and added that with the right resources, the party's support in the sector could grow even further. But one activist present said the praise for Olmert and the lack of criticism for him despite his problems with the Russian-speaking community made him feel like he was "back in the USSR in the time of Brezhnev."