The circumstances surrounding the deportations and the justifications provided by the Russian authorities for such actions are particularly concerning because they are reminiscent of the glory days of institutional anti-Semitism in the country. Rabbi Eliezer Kaplun and Rabbi Chaim Friedman returned to Russia after a vacation in Israel only to be told by airport officials that their visas had been revoked without any further explanation.
Rabbi Zvi Hershcowitz was deported last week after a local court found him guilty of failing to notify police of his change of residence. Rabbi Yisroel Silberstein was convicted in court for, among other things, praying in a synagogue.
The government contends that anti-Semitism was not a factor in revoking these rabbis' visas, but rather that the rabbis violated Russian immigration and labor laws. Russia's Immigration Ministry maintains a list of professions permissible for foreign residents. 'Rabbi' is not on this list. For this reason, immigration officials refuse to issue work visas to rabbis arriving in the country. Therefore, once rabbis begin working in Jewish communities in the country, court orders are issued against them and they are deported.
File this under the more things change, the more they stay the same.