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Russians To Bush: Where’s Our Thanks?

Russians To Bush: Where’s Our Thanks?

Are the Bush White House and Republican Party taking the support of Russian-speaking Jews for granted?Yes, according to the leaders of a 10-member delegation from Russian-American Jews for Bush who attended the second inauguration of President Bush last week in Washington, but with tickets provided by Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a Democrat.

Dr. Igor Branovan and Valery Weinberg, editor-in-chief of Novoye Russkoye Slovo, the nation’s only Russian-language daily, were gratified to be the first representatives of a Russian-Jewish organization to attend an inauguration. But both claimed the Bush White House and Republican Party haven’t been appreciative enough of their support.

“I’ve had discussions with Republican operatives and people at the White House, and my impression is they have yet to appreciate the magnitude of support the president received in the Russian community,” Branovan said. “Their response has been less than overwhelming.”

Exit polls showed that Russian-Jewish voters in Brooklyn and Queens went 75 to 80 percent for Bush over Sen. John Kerry.

Branovan said he approached Nadler, who represents heavily Russian-speaking sections of Brooklyn and has built strong ties to the Russian community, about arranging the tickets for his group. Branovan added that he was confident the White House or New York GOP also would have provided tickets had he asked them.

Noting that a high percentage of the Jewish vote for Bush came from two constituencies — the Orthodox community and Russian speakers — Branovan said, “Whereas the Orthodox community is represented quite prominently in the administration, I am not sure that’s the case with Russian-speakers.”Weinberg said his delegation attending the inauguration was “important for the entire Russian-speaking community,” but added, “Frankly, we expected more of a response [from the GOP] for our efforts, especially considering that some of us flew out to Cleveland on the last weekend before the election and held a town hall meeting for Bush in the Russian-speaking community there.”

A source in the White House remarked, “People at the highest levels of the White House have been made aware of the election results in the Russian-speaking Jewish community and understand its significance. I can assure Russian-Jewish leaders that we are interested in working with anyone who shares our values.”The source added, “I believe we have been showing [the Russian-Jewish leaders] the kavod [respect] they are looking for. Take, for example, how President Bush has repeatedly cited Natan Sharansky for helping him formulate the views on democracy he articulated in his inaugural address.”

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