A rabbi from an ultra-orthodox Jewish group is ultra-powerful in Russia's shrinking oligarchy, using Putin's patronage to raise funds and revive Judaism across the country, the Wall Street Journal reports. But critics charge him with selling his soul for the cozy position,
downplaying anti-Semitism and becoming an apologist for the anti-democratic president.
Berel Lazar, of the Brooklyn-based Chabad-Lubavitch sect, has made his Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia one of the leading charities in the country. Though the Italian-born Lazar speaks only fractured Russian, he has used his Kremlin ties and PR skills to amass cash and develop services—often elbowing out of the way competing Jewish leaders.