Translated from the Russian
The former President of the USSR Mikhail Gorbachev met with the Chief Rabbi of Russia Berl Lazar at the International Public Fund for Socio-Economic and Political Research “Gorbachev Fund”.
Rabbi Berl Lazar highly appreciated the contribution of Mikhail Gorbachev to the creation of conditions for a free and full life of Russian Jewry. The rabbi stated:
“You opened the Iron Curtain, and Jews got the opportunity to travel to Israel, to America – wherever they want. True, the situation is changing now: Jews began to return to Russia.”
According to Lazar, Russia today is not only an open, but also a free country. And therefore the Jews, besides the fact that they received the right of free entry and exit, according to the rabbi, can now “live a full, full-fledged Jewish life in Russia.”
In turn, Mikhail Gorbachev noted that from a civilian standpoint, he has always been a supporter of “open exit”. But about this problem, the ex-president spoke quite definitely as follows:
“And at the same time, I have always believed and still believe that the departure of the intellectual elite is a loss for the state.”
During the discussion of the situation in the Middle East, Gorbachev gave a positive assessment of the outlined ways of resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict. He also said that he plans to visit Israel in the near future.
Lazar proposed to join efforts to strengthen Russia’s image in the world. During the conversation, concrete paths leading to this goal were outlined. The former Soviet leader and chief rabbi of Russia also discussed the main ways of co-operation between the Gorbachev Foundation and the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia.
And first of all, such cooperation will touch upon the issues of strengthening the ties of emigrants with the Russian Federation. They also discussed mutual steps to implement a number of joint charitable programs.