The ministry has requested to dissolve the Russian branch of the agency, according to a Moscow court.
Russia’s Ministry of Justice has requested the liquidation of the Russian branch of the Jewish Agency, a non-profit organisation that promotes immigration to Israel, according to a Moscow court.
The website of the Basmanny district court said the ministry filed the request on July 15 and it would be discussed on July 28.
“The court received an administrative complaint from the justice ministry’s main department requesting the dissolution … of the organisation ‘Support for links with the Jewish diaspora, Jewish Agency Sokhnut’,” said Ekaterina Buravtsova, a spokeswoman for the Basmany court in Moscow, quoted by Russian agencies on Thursday.
Buravtsova said the request was made after legal violations but did not provide further details, according to Interfax news agency.
Last week, the Russian justice ministry told the Ria Novosti state news agency that it carried out “document checks” with the non-profit organisation between May 30 and June 27 but did not give any more information about the result of the checks.
The move against the Jerusalem-based agency, the largest Jewish non-profit organisation in the world, follows criticism by Israel of Russia’s war in Ukraine, as Israel’s then-Foreign Minister Yair Lapid accused it in April of carrying out war crimes.
Moscow has repeatedly denied atrocities and said it does not go after civilians, although thousands have been killed in nearly five months of war.
“Russian Jews will not be held hostage by the war in Ukraine. The attempt to punish the Jewish Agency for Israel’s stance on the war is deplorable and offensive,” Israeli Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai said in response to news of the court filing.
The Jerusalem Post newspaper reported on July 5 that Russian authorities suspected the Jewish Agency of illegally gathering data on Russian citizens, while also linking the move to tensions between Israel and Russia over Ukraine and Syria.
Around 7,000 Jews emigrated from Russia to Israel last year, according to Israeli government data.
Though Israel has not sent military aid to Ukraine, it has condemned Russia’s invasion of its neighbour. Traditionally strong relations with Moscow deteriorated in May after Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Adolf Hitler had Jewish ancestry, prompting anger in Israel.
The agency, established in 1929, played a key role in the creation of the state of Israel in 1948.
It began working in Russia in 1989, two years before the end of the Soviet Union, after which hundreds of thousands of Jews from all over the USSR left for Israel.
More than a million Israeli citizens today are originally from the Soviet Union.