|In Russia, Knesset speaker says ‘trail of blood leads to Iran’|
In first for a senior Israeli official, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein addresses Russian Federation Council • “We believe your visit will strengthen the ties between the countries and between parliaments,” says Federation Council Chairwoman Matviyenko.
Gideon Allon and Israel Hayom Staff
|Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein with Russian Federation Council Chairwoman Valentina Matviyenko in Moscow, Tuesday | Photo credit: Knesset Spokesperson|
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein addressed the Russian Federation Council, the upper house of the Russian parliament, in Moscow on Wednesday. It was the first address by a senior Israeli official in that setting.
Speaking first in Hebrew and then continuing in Russian, Edelstein started off his speech by recalling his imprisonment in the Siberian gulags in the 1980s for promoting Jewish emigration from the Soviet Union to Israel and teaching Hebrew in secret.
The Knesset speaker also spoke about terrorist threats facing Israel and the world, touching on Hamas, Hezbollah and the Iranian threats.
“Sadly, despite all our achievements, we are still facing serious challenges. Hezbollah, one of the world’s most dangerous terrorist organizations, is active on our northern border, and it is equipped with advanced, innovative weaponry,” he said.
“Behind Hezbollah and Hamas, there is Iran. For years, [Iran] has been aggressively trying to establish outposts in Lebanon and in Syria in an effort to expand its influence in the region and disseminate its hateful ideology of hatred toward man. This is a threat to all the peoples of the Middle East.
“These efforts are particularly dangerous since we all know too well that for years, Iran has been attempting to manufacture weapons of mass destruction, which would allow it to shield its regional tentacles with a nuclear umbrella. But Iran’s destructive actions have spread far beyond the Middle East. Almost every terrorist attack targeting Israelis anywhere in the world, be it in Thailand, Argentina or Bulgaria, the trail of blood always leads back to Tehran.”
Following his address, Edelstein, a native of Chernivtsi, Ukraine (then part of the Soviet Union), planned to visit some of the important landmarks of his life, among them the synagogue where he was a refusenik activist, the apartment where Russian police kept tabs on him, the courthouse where he was sentenced and the holding cell where he was detained.
On Tuesday, he met with Federation Council Chairwoman Valentina Matviyenko. Edelstein was welcomed warmly by Matviyenko and signed the official parliamentary guest book.
In their meeting, Matviyenko said, “We believe your visit will strengthen the ties between the countries and between our parliaments.”
At a joint press conference after their meeting, Edelstein told reporters, “It is known that our region is sensitive and that Russia plays a significant role in it, therefore it is especially important to continue cooperation and to resolve disagreements.”
Matviyenko described mounting allegations that Russia intervened in the last U.S. presidential election as “hysteria that does not coincide with reality.”
“Russia did not intervene and does not intervene in any election campaigns,” she said.