MOSCOW — In his most direct anti-Semitic statements yet, Russian ultranationalist Vladimir V. Zhirinovsky on Wednesday blamed Jews for starting World War II and provoking the Holocaust.
"The essence of the conflict around the Jewish people is that when their number grows too much in some country, war breaks out there," said Zhirinovsky, who leads the third-largest faction in the Duma, Russia's lower house of parliament.
"That happened in Germany . . . where there were too many Jews," he declared to reporters.
It was not clear why Zhirinovsky called the news conference, which he turned into a monologue about his vision of the history of the Jews and their role in contemporary life.
His only explanation was that "many Jews were born in April."
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, said Zhirinovsky's statement could also have been timed for the Jewish holiday of Passover, which begins Friday, or Holocaust Memorial Day on April 23.
Cooper, who said the allegation that Jews started World War II was a slap in the face to Jewish victims, called on Russian leaders "to put Zhirinovsky in his place."
While repeating that his party is not anti-Semitic, Zhirinovsky accused Jews of sparking the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution.
"You will always find Jews where war is raging because they realize that money flows where blood is spilled," he said.