BY GREER FAY CASHMAN | The Jerusalem Post | Photo: VIKTOR VEKSELBERG (left) alongside Anton Vaino, chief of staff of the presidential executive office of Russia. 

Who could have imagined 40 years ago that there would be a Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center in Moscow? For those who may be unaware, the museum, which opened in 2012, was built at a cost of $50 million, and one of the donors was Russian President Vladimir Putin, who contributed one of his monthly salaries.

Over the past seven years, the museum has become a popular attraction with 600,000 visitors from the period June 2018 to August 2019. Last week, at a meeting of the museum’s board of trustees, chaired by businessman and owner of the Renova Group, Viktor Vekselberg, who is very keen to see the museum develop, there was considerable discussion about future events. Vekselberg stressed the importance of the museum’s educational mission and its role in preserving historical memory. He was particularly proud of the milestone event that took place in June this year when Putin attended the dedication of a monument to Jewish resistance fighters against the Nazis in ghettos and concentration camps.

The monument, which is housed in the museum, is an important emotional symbol, said Vekselberg, especially taking into account that next year will mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by soldiers of the Red Army and the great victory against Germany and its allies. Within this context, the museum must continue its educational work focused on preserving historical memory, he said.

Given a recent antisemitic attack in Halle, Germany, Vekselberg emphasized, the problem of antisemitism remains critical in today’s world and the museum must make its contribution to fighting against this kind of extremism.

The board of trustees of the museum was founded in February of 2013, shortly after the official opening of the museum and is comprised of a number of prominent Russian and international business and political leaders, as well as representatives of religious and public organizations, culture and arts.

Among them, in addition to Vekselberg are Anton Vaino, chief of staff of the presidential executive office, Leonard Blavatnik, chairman of the board of Access Industries, Alexander Boroda, president of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia, Mikhail Gutseriev, OAO Russneft president, Lord John Browne, executive chairman of the board of directors of L1 Energy, gallery owner Darya “Dasha” Zhukova, Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, Oleg Soloshchansky, vice president of the Russian Builders Association and others.

President Vladimir Putin is expected to come to Israel at the invitation of President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to join in the special Yad Vashem conference of world leaders in advance of International Holocaust Remembrance Day. 

During his visit, the dedication of another monument to resistance and victory against the Nazis will be dedicated.

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