Russias Jews wield power at polls

Instead, the Jewish vote is split among centrist and liberal parties vowing change.

In addition, Jews are playing a prominent role in these elections, both as candidates and as big business leaders who wield tremendous influence on national politics — especially as the owners of national media channels that have engaged in slanted reporting that exceeds typical American mud-slinging.

This situation has led to something of a backlash, bringing to the surface the anti-Semitism that is always only partially submerged in Russia.

Indeed, the famous Russian author and Nobel Prize winner Alexander Solzhenitsyn recently expressed a fear of a "Jewish conspiracy" against Russia when, in a TV interview, he compared today's situation to the one in the years preceding the 1917 Russian Revolution, when bankers and other "shady people" with Jewish names were "plotting from behind the scenes."

According to analysts, a sizable part of the Jewish vote will go to the Fatherland-All Russia bloc, which is running second in the nationwide opinion polls with 14 percent, right behind the Communists, who are earning roughly 27 percent of the vote in polls.

This bloc, known as OVR, is headed by Yevgeny Primakov, the former prime minister who is widely believed to have Jewish roots, and by Moscow's powerful mayor, Yuri Luzhkov. Both men are contending for the Russian presidency.

Luzhkov, who has always been extremely friendly with the Jewish community, attends almost all high-profile Jewish gatherings, including the opening of new synagogues. Earlier this year, he also banned Russia's leading neo-Nazi group from meeting in Moscow.

Some Jewish voters are also expected to support the Yabloko bloc, which is running third in the opinion polls with 9 to 10 percent. Yabloko is headed by the well-known liberal economist and presidential contender Grigory Yavlinsky, who is supported by Russian intellectuals and who himself has Jewish roots.