In response to growing tension with Israel over its invasion of Ukraine, the Russian government has ordered the Jewish Agency to cease all operations in the country, The Jerusalem Post reports.
The move could greatly undermine the ability of Russian Jews to immigrate to Israel, of which thousands have already secured the paperwork to do so, but the sanctions on Russia have caused most international airlines to stop flying to the country.
Sources in Russia's Jewish community told the Post that "people from the Jewish community have been feeling the Iron Curtain setting on them and they fear they won't be able to escape the country" and that "a number of Jews have said that the Russian authorities are trying to arrest them and that they fear for their lives."
The Jewish Agency works to facilitate aliyah from Jewish communities around the world. If the organization is blocked in Russia, it will be the first time in the past 30 years that aliyah efforts are banned in the country.
"I was updated this morning regarding the decision of the Russian Ministry of Justice. As is well known, the Jewish Agency is a central arm of the government and the ministry for the assistance of the immigration of Jews from all over the world to the State of Israel," Aliyah and Integration Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata said in response to the move.
"We must ensure that their scope of operation is maintained as it has been throughout the years. I appealed to the Prime Minister to work with the Moscow administration to resolve the problem and I want to strengthen the Jewish community in Russia, which must be worried at this time about the consequences of the decision. Aliyah is a basic right for the Jews of Russia and we will make sure that it is preserved as such."