The agencies said Putin made the comments at a meeting with Russia’s chief rabbi, Berl Lazar, and the head of the Federation of Jewish Communities, Alexander Boroda. Putin said Russia had made use of its contacts with the political wing of Hamas.
“You know, since the situation became more tense in the Middle East, Russia has been doing everything to help people who became hostages,” Putin was quoted as saying.
“As is known, our Foreign Ministry worked through the political wing of Hamas and, on the whole, there have been specific results.”
Putin did not elaborate, according to the reported comments.
Moscow’s efforts, though directed at helping Russian nationals, also sought to help others, the president said.
“They include elderly people and their family members who survived the Holocaust,” he was quoted as saying.
“But I know, I understand, that it is vital to carry on with these efforts. And that is what we are doing.”
Moscow also has said the violence in the Middle East is a reflection of U.S. policy failures in the region.
Putin’s reference to Holocaust survivors comes a day after Russia’s foreign ministry told the Israeli ambassador, Simona Halperin, of its “negative reaction” to her criticisms of Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian policy.
Authorities criticised her “unacceptable comments” in an interview with Russian newspaper Kommersant in which she said Lavrov had played down the importance of the Holocaust and that Russia was too friendly with Hamas.
Reporting by Ron Popeski
Editing by Bill Berkrot
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