“The Word ‘Yid’ Is In the Dictionary”

August 13, 2013
Artyom Geodakyan/ITAR TASS

Moscow mayoral candidate Nikolai Levichev is breaking through the information blockade with the help of advice to kitchen gardeners and non-politically-correct word puzzles. We apologize for the language, but it seems that this is currently part of Russian political dialogue. – Ed.

The words “yid” and “nigger” have been found in word puzzles in the campaign newspapers of Nikolai Levichev, the candidate running for mayor of Moscow from “Just Russia.” Levichev’s campaign headquarters clarified that this isn’t a case of antisemitism or nationalism – it’s just that these words are in dictionaries and are convenient for making up word puzzles. Furthermore, the Just Russia candidate has devoted a lot of space in his campaign literature to household and gardening advice. In the view of political analysts, thanks to such useful information in the newspapers, Levichev has managed to break through the information blockade.

The words “yid” and “nigger” were discovered in word puzzles in newspapers printed by Moscow mayoral candidate Nikolai Levichev of Just Russia. The word “yid” is the correct answer to a question asking for a synonym for the word “Jew,” and “nigger,” similarly, is the answer to the question asking for a synonym for the word “Afro-American.” The correct answers enable the reader to guess other words in the puzzle which intersect with these two non-politically-correct words.

The word puzzles in Levichev’s newspapers have already been widely discussed in the blogosphere. The bulk of the materials published in his campaign newspapers are recipes, tips for healthy living and how-tos for dacha gardening.

Examples of headlines you can find in the newspapers are: “Giant Kohlrabi: The Most Beneficial Cabbage”; “Why Does the Chamaedorea Dry Out?” “Carrots in Exchange for Gold Bars”; “Pastry Puff Surprise”.

Oleg Pakholkov, head of the campaign project “Newspaper Breakthrough”, a State Duma deputy from Just Russia, says that Nikolai Levichev has no relationship to the compiling of the word puzzles.

“We helped him with word puzzles from my publishing house. Of course there is no question of any antisemitism or nationalism here! The word ‘yid’ is in the dictionary and is used by compilers of word puzzles, including automatically. It is convenient to use for these purposes – it has three letters and the “i” in the middle. It would be strange if the use of these words specifically in word puzzles would offend anyone,” explained Oleg Pakholkov.

The word ‘yid” does really exist, in Dal’s explanatory dictionary of the living Belarusian language, for example. In fact, in comparison with the 19th century, now this word evidently has a pejorative, negative character. Thus, for example, the Russian-language dictionary by Ushakov says that this word means “a Jew, in the mouths of antisemites,” and in the explanatory dictionary edited by Kuznetsov, it is designated “a derogatory name for a Jew”; in Yefremova’s dictionary the word is describe as usually used “with a connotation of contempt.”

The recipes and the useful advice, according to Pakholkov, have enabled the candidate to break through the information blockade in the media.

“This strategy was successful for the Just Russians in the elections in Tver, Yekaterinburg, Volgograd, and Voronezh, where the party achieved a good result. We distribute these newspapers at pickets, sometimes people even line up to get them! They take the newspaper home and don’t throw it out in the garbage, as often happens with the campaign literature of other candidates,” added Pakholkov.

A source in the Moscow chapter of Just Russia who spoke to Gazeta.ru said that the scandal may play out in favor of the candidate.

“In some sense, this is also a breakthrough of the blockade,” the source noted.

We will recall that according to the latest opinion poll from the All-Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VTsIOM), the mayoral candidate Levichev had garnered only 1% of respondents’ support.

Today in the same edition of Levichev’s newspaper where the word “yid” was discovered, readers found the term “Eurogay socialism” (yevrogeyskiy sotsialism) in the caption under a photograph of the candidate.

The Just Russia campaign headquarters explained that the word “European” (yevropeyskiy) had been written correctly when they sent the proofs to the printing press.

“Perhaps, there’s a malicious virus program,” the headquarters theorized.

Political analyst Pyotr Bystrov indicated that campaign literature with useful advice really was quite successful in the southern regions of Russia, but would hardly be remembered in Moscow.

“Perhaps, the snap election played a role; Levichev’s team simply didn’t manage to prepare in time some campaign literature with a local adaptation, and stubbornly decided to do what had once brought success. But there is technology, and then there is ideology; what is familiar and interesting in the Far East is not interesting in the south; what gets a ‘hurrah’ in the Volga Region is viewed skeptically in Moscow,” says Bystrov.