Russian man gets 2.5 years in jail for anti-Semitic graffiti

Cnaan Liphshiz

(JTA) — A Russian court handed handed a 2 ½-year prison sentence to a young man for writing anti-Semitic graffiti on a residential building.

A district court in the city of Kurgan near Russia’s border with Kazakhstan earlier this week upheld the unusually-harsh sentence, which the 23-year-old man received from a lower court last year, Kommersant reported Wednesday.

The man, who was not named in the report, was drunk when he broke the law against inciting racial hatred by calling for extremist activity, the court said. But his sentence reflects the fact that the perpetrator has previous convictions for the hijacking of a car and theft, the report also said. It did not say what the man wrote or drew.

Leaders of Russian Jewry have often expressed gratitude to the judiciary for its relatively heavy-handed approach to anti-Semitism.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose government is widely seen as controlling the judiciary, has often spoken out against anti-Semitism.

Watchdog groups, including ones critical to Putin, say that Russia has only a few dozen cases annually involving anti-Semitic violence or intimidation — a fraction of the tally in many European countries with sizable Jewish populations.