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Monday, March 24, 2003 Adar2 20, 5763 Israel Time:  16:12  (GMT+2)
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16:05 24/03/2003 Last update - 16:05 24/03/2003
Russian court rules textbook critical of Jews as
legal
By The Associated Press

MOSCOW - A Russian court ruled Monday that there was nothing illegal in a government-endorsed textbook that describes Jews as power-hungry and greedy, a rights group said.

The Moscow-based Movement for Human Rights had asked the Meshchansky district court to force prosecutors to open a criminal investigation into the textbook, "The Fundamentals of Orthodox Culture."

The book, endorsed by the Education Ministry and the Russian Orthodox Church for use in public schools, says the Jews forced Pontius Pilate to crucify Jesus because "they thought only about power over other peoples and earthly wealth."

In addition to attacking Jews, the textbook accuses Russia's non-Orthodox "guests" of "not always behaving nobly in the traditionally Orthodox state."

The Movement for Human Rights appealed to the Prosecutor General's Office to open a criminal case in June on the grounds that the book incites ethnic hatred, a crime under Russian law. Federal prosecutors passed the issue on to local Moscow prosecutors, who refused to open a case.

In December, the Meshchansky district court ruled that the prosecutors' refusal was illegal. The prosecutors then issued a second refusal, which was upheld by the court Monday, the Movement for Human Rights said.

The textbook was intended for use in public schools, where classes on Russian Orthodox traditions are becoming increasingly common. Human rights campaigners say the courses violate the constitutional separation of church and state.

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