Vladimir Putin has offered his congratulations to Russia’s Jewish community in his annual Rosh Hashanah address.

Meeting the Chief Rabbi of Russia Berel Lazar and Head of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia Alexander Boroda in Moscow, the Russian president said: “We have a great, very large, multinational, multi-confessional [country]. We always have something to celebrate. Today, we celebrate New Year for the Jewish people, the Jewish New Year. I congratulate you. I congratulate you and all the Jewish people of the country on your New Year.”

“The celebration of the Jewish New Year is a major event in the life of the Jewish community, a tribute to the historical and spiritual heritage of Jews and their distinctive culture and customs. I am glad that you are encouraging young people to keep up these centuries old traditions. On this holiday, the supporters of Judaism analyse their achievements, make plans for the future and become aware of their special responsibility for the welfare of those who need their assistance and support.

“I am confident that the Jewish organisations of Russia will actively contribute to the implementation of much-needed educational and awareness initiatives, as well as to the acts of compassion and charity, and will also promote religious tolerance and good relations between people of different faiths.”

Speaking about how Jews suffered during the Second World War and how they must “do everything to not let it happen again”, he added: “It is important that people in our country know that the leaders of the Jewish community of Russia share our official point of view about the truth and justice with respect to all the events of the Second World War. It is very important that we take this into account in these extremely important topics. Our views must, of course, continue into the future, but [the views] must be based on a solid foundation of understanding of what the result of extremism is and about how hateful people can lead to ideas that are manifested in the extermination of entire people, millions of people. We must do everything not to let it happen again.”

The Chief Rabbi of Russia, Berel Lazar, said: “Russian soldiers played the most important role in the liberation of Europe from fascism. They probably suffered the most during the war. And the attempt to exclude Russia from this is immoral for us. When we talk about war, first of all, we need to leave aside all these political issues. We don’t know what it’s related to, but it is certainly not related to justice and what we see today is some kind of a game on such a sacred event like the heroic deeds during the war.”