Molotov Cocktails Thrown at Moscow Synagogue on Day of neo-Nazi Sentencing

Synagogue empty at time three Molotov cocktails thrown; Local Jewish community thinks neo-Nazis behind attack.

Three Molotov cocktails were thrown at Moscow's Darchei Shalom synagogue late Monday night. No one was hurt; the synagogue was empty at the time except for the guards. The building sustained minor damage.

The local Jewish community believes neo-Nazis are behind the attack.

The synagogue's security cameras show four masked men. Three prepared the Molotov cocktails, while the fourth threw them. He was apparently aiming for a second-story window, but missed every time, so only the synagogue's outer wall was damaged.

Many in the Moscow Jewish community think the attack was an act of revenge after a Moscow military court sentenced six neo-Nazis to life in prison on Monday for various crimes, including 27 murders and an attempt to commit a mass terror attack. Seven other members of the group were given sentences ranging from 10 to 23 years.

One of the crimes for which group members were convicted was an attack on the Darchei Shalom synagogue two years ago. That attack also involved Molotov cocktails.

But the synagogue's rabbi, David Karpov, said he is skeptical of this theory.

Rabbi Adolf Shayevitch - who is considered Russia's chief rabbi by the Russian Jewish Congress but not the country's other Jewish organization, the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia - yesterday urged the Russian government to eradicate xenophobia.

"It's very sad that young people are committing such acts," he said. "People could have been hurt."

The attack occurred just after Karpov had left the synagogue, in the city's northeastern section.

One of Russia's most serious anti-Semitic incidents in recent years occurred on January 11, 2006 at another Moscow synagogue, the Bolshaya Bronnaya (named after the street on which it is located ). A young Russian named Alexander Koptsev entered the building and began stabbing everyone within reach. Koptsev, then 20 years old, wounded 11 people before being overcome by the synagogue's rabbi and his son. At his trial, prosecutors were unable to prove that he was connected to a neo-Nazi organization. He was sentenced to 13.5 years in jail.