Hebrew media sources claim that the Russian authorities have decided "suddenly" to cancel an International Conference of the Jewish Agency, which was scheduled to be held later this month in St Petersburg.
According to Maariv newspaper, the Kremlin says that the Jewish Agency – an organisation which aims to buy Palestinian land for Jewish settlers is not recognized in Russia as an international body. As a result, it is classified as "local" and is, therefore, banned from organising any international meetings. The Agency's difficulties were compounded by the fact that it did not inform the Russian government of its intention to hold such a meeting.
However, Israeli sources say that the cancellation is linked to criminal charges against Jewish billionaire Leonid Bnzlen, who is known for his generous donations to the Jewish Agency. The Israeli authorities are refusing to extradite Bnzlen to Russia, where he is supposed to stand trial.