By COLlive reporter
Rabbi Osher Krichevsky, Chief Rabbi of the southwestern Siberian city of Omsk, has received a deportation order from the Russian authorities instructing him to leave the country within 15 days.
Krichevsky and his wife Rachel have been active in the local Jewish community for 13 years as Chabad Shluchim and representatives of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia.
While no explanation was given for the deportation, Russian media raised the possibility that Krichevsky is suspected of spying for Israel, Anshel Pfeffer reports in Haaretz.
Pfeffer noted that this is unlikely, however, due to the fact that Chabad rabbis are under strict instructions not to break any laws in the countries where they serve.
Haaretz added that Krichevsky has been prosecuted recently by local Russian authorities. Last month he was fined and warned when food products past their sell-by date and “unlicensed” kosher wine were found in a kosher grocery operating under his auspices.
The deportation order could well be the result of a local initiative in Omsk, as a result of the current anti-Western climate, and it may not have been sanctioned by higher echelons, Haaretz said.
Chabad in Russia, led by the country’s Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar, maintains strong ties to President Vladimir Putin. Rabbi Krichevsky stood near Putin when he relocated the Schneerson Library to the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center in Moscow.
In a conversation with COL in Israel, Rabbi Krichevsky said: “We are not alone. We have the Rebbe who sent us here and there are good people who are dealing with the matter. We have a good reason to be optimistic that everything will turn out good.”
Rabbi Krichevsky said he is currently busy with opening the new school year at the Jewish Day School Nochu Litzei and preparing for the High Holidays alongside the community’s chairman Gennadiy Friedman.