The Communist Party has conceded Soviet anti-Semitism is growing at an "alarming" pace and is urging that laws against racist propaganda be enforced to ease Jewish fears about pogroms and slow emigration.
The party newspaper Pravda said Sunday that the country has "a Jewish question," noting that 100,000 Soviet Jews left last year. It said the exodus could be "two or three times as great this year."The article, the most extensive official treatment of anti-Semitism in the glasnost era, said hatred of Jews was no longer the preserve of extremists and had spread to some intellectuals.
"A law-based state must ensure real defense of persons of any nationality," Pravda said. It said current laws against racist propaganda must be enforced.
It said most Soviet Jews don't want to emigrate, but that the departures for Israel were growing. "One has to see that the terror of pogroms is becoming ever more widespread," Pravda said.
"There is a need to gather courage and figure out what the problem is and ways of resolving it," Pravda said in an article long awaited by the Soviet Jewish community, estimated to number 2 million people.
"Unfortunately, political anti-Semitism has become part of the arsenal of the new Black Hundreds," it said in reference to thugs who carried out pogroms in czarist Russia.
"Perhaps for the first time (also) in our history, Judophobia has become popular in certain circles of the intelligentsia," it said. "And this unprecedented respectability of anti-Semitism is the the most alarming thing of all.
"Certain literary publications are openly associated with anti-Semitic positions, and in issue after issue print the most odious fabrications," it said.
Pravda did not name the offensive publications.
Despite condemning anti-Semitism, Pravda stuck to the traditional official line that Zionism, or the political movement for a Jewish state, was incorrect.
The Jews have had a tortured history in the country that coined the word pogrom, an organized persecution and massacre of a minority group. Under the czars, many were restricted to the Pale of Settlement, a huge ghetto far to the south of Moscow.
The Feburary 1917 revolution that overthrew the czar allowed the Jews of imperial Russia to leave the ghetto and live anywhere in Russia and choose any profession.
Eight months later, the Bolshevik Communists, led by Vladimir Lenin and counting many Jews in their ranks, overthrew the liberal socialist government. Jewish Bolsheviks such as Leon Trotsky believed in assimilation and abhored Zionism.