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Russia's Jewish Autonomous Region In Siberia 'Ready' To House European Jews

The governor of Russia's Far East Jewish Autonomous Region says the area is "ready" to house Jews from Europe who are facing anti-Semitism.

Aleksandr Levintal said his region "will welcome Jews from European countries, where they may face attacks by anti-Semitic elements."

Levintal also called his region "the first officially established Jewish statehood."

Levintal's remarks come a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin called on Jews to return to Russia.

In Moscow on January 19, Putin told the head of the European Jewish Congress, Moshe Kantor, that he had seen reports saying European Jews were scared to wear a yarmulke, the traditional Jewish skull cap, in public.

Putin told Kantor, "They can come to us. They left the Soviet Union. Let them return."

The Jewish Autonomous Region was established by the Soviet government in 1934 in a part of southeastern Siberia that borders China.

In 1948, the Jewish population there peaked at 30,000 -- a quarter of the region's total population.

By 2010, out of 180,000 residents in the region, only about 1,600 were of Jewish ancestry.

Based on reporting by TASS and Interfax

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