Aug 18, 2022

Russian Jews Head for Israel as Kremlin Targets Emigration Group

From an article by Rami Amichay and published by Reuters:

In the hours after Russia invaded Ukraine in February, Ilya Fomintsev, a 43-year-old oncologist and director of a medical charity, took to the streets of Moscow to protest. He was arrested and sentenced to 20 days’ detention. Fearing for his future, like many other opponents of the “special military operation” in Ukraine, Fomintsev decided to leave the country.

But as other opposition-minded Russians headed for Turkey, Georgia and Armenia, Fomintsev, on the advice of an old patient, began gathering documents proving his Jewish ancestry and made an appointment at the Israeli consulate.

“I am of Jewish origin and the only option for me to emigrate was to Israel,” Fomintsev said in an interview at his new home in Tel Aviv.

“By and large in other countries, it is impossible to legalise yourself, it is also impossible to open bank accounts there or do business. Israel was the only option I had and I took advantage of the repatriation programme.”

Fomintsev was part of a renewed wave of Jewish emigration from Russia that, though not as large as earlier pre-revolutionary and post-Soviet exoduses, has seen tens of thousands of Russians make for the Jewish state.

According to Israeli government figures, 20,246 Russians emigrated to Israel between January and July 2022, with numbers spiking from around 700 per month in February to over 3,000 in March. By contrast, in the whole of 2019 only 15,930 Russians emigrated to Israel.

Most of the emigrants from Russia are Jews, but some may only have close relatives who are Jewish. Under Israel’s Law of Return, a person needs at least one Jewish grandparent to be entitled to immediate citizenship. Around 600,000 Russians qualify.

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