An Israeli-born rabbi serving as the chief rabbi for the Jewish community in Siberia is facing deportation, after apparently being accused of espionage.

Rabbi Asher Krichevsky, a Chabad emissary in Omsk and chief rabbi of the Siberian Jewish community, has faced deportation attempts by local authorities for years amid accusations he poses a threat to “Russia’s constitutional order”.

Since 2001, the 40-year-old Rabbi Krichevsky has worked as an emissary in Russia, alongside his older brother, Rabbi Dan Krichevsky, the Chief Rabbi of Ufa.

Beginning in 2014, Russian authorities have attempted annul residency permits for Krichevsky and his family, citing a series of alleged infractions and claiming that the rabbi had “attempted to destroy Russia’s constitutional order” – a charge typically used in espionage cases.

Russian media outlets suggested Krichevsky had in fact served as a spy, though no evidence was ever presented against him either by immigration officials or in court.
Since 2003, eight other rabbis working in Israel have been forced out of the country under similar circumstances.

Earlier this year, Krichevsky’s residency permit was nullified on the basis of information provided by the Russian FSB security agency, a court said.

Last month, Krichevsky appealed the decision, arguing in part that no reason or clear accusation was made to justify the nullification. An appeals court rejected the motion, however.