Viatcheslav Moshe Kantor
Viatcheslav Moshe Kantor (born on September 8, 1953 in Moscow) is a Jewish leader, philanthropist and businessman. He currently serves as the President of the European Jewish Congress.
Life and career
Kantor was born and spent his early years in Moscow, and obtained a degree from the Moscow Aviation Institute in 1976. In 1981, he completed a PhD in Spacecraft Automatic Control Systems.
Kantor heads the publicly traded Acron Group, one of the leading mineral fertilizer producers and distributors in the world. He purchased the first asset of the Acron Group, a state-owned nitric acid-based fertilizer plant in Russia (formerly named Azot), in 1993. In 20142, Forbes estimated Kantor's worth at US$2.43 billion, making him the 42th richest businessmen in Russia and the 613th richest businessman in a global Forbes rating.
Kantor is married to Anna Kantor and has 3 sons and a daughter.
Kantor, who is president of the European Jewish Congress (EJC), is well known worldwide for his fight against anti-Semitism, racism and neo-Nazism and has greatly contributed to revitalizing Jewish life in Europe and beyond. He co-chairs the European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation (ECTR) and is known for his extensive involvement in the promotion of tolerance in the modern world. He is also president of the International Luxembourg Forum on Preventing Nuclear Catastrophe and is engaged in discussing and elaborating ways to stop nuclear proliferation and prevent nuclear catastrophe.
Kantor is associated with and serves on the boards of many communal and civic organizations and has made significant contributions to the development of essential European concepts including Model National Statute for the Promotion of Tolerance and “Secure Tolerance,” whereby tolerance as an objective can only be assured with personal security for the individual and the repression of intolerance as a society. This can be best achieved through early education, model legislation and enforcement. To promote this concept, Kantor has initiated the establishment of a European academic center dedicated to researching and studying tolerance.
Kantor’s work promoting tolerance and reconciliation, human rights and interfaith dialogue, and his struggle against anti-Semitism and racism earned him numerous awards in recent years from European heads of state, including the Italian Knight’s Grand Cross of the Order of Merit (2013), the highest decoration given to a non-Italian and France’s prestigious Officer of the National Order of the Legion of Honour (2014).
Kantor has been the president of the European Jewish Congress (EJC) since 2007, having been re-elected to the position in 2008 and again in 2012. The EJC, the largest secular organization representing the interests of European Jewry, is an influential, international public association representing some 2.5 million Jews across the European continent in 42 national Jewish communities.
Kantor is particularly involved in Holocaust education. To preserve memories of the tragic events of the 20th century, he founded and headed the World Holocaust Forum (WHF) and the European Jewish Fund.
As Chair of the World Holocaust Forum Foundation Kantor initiated and organized the commemoration events in Kraków, on January 27, 2005, to mark the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. The “Let My People Live!” World Forum was attended by more than 40 heads of states and official delegations.
Kantor’s involvement in promoting Jewish life also extends to being the key founder and chairman of the European Jewish Fund (EJF), which focuses on promoting Jewish life throughout Europe by supporting programmes to reinforce Jewish identity and Jewish pride, especially by re-connecting young people with their rich and vital Jewish heritage. He also serves as Deputy Chairman of Yad Vashem and was recently elected Chairman of the Policy Council of the World Jewish Congress.
Tolerance and reconciliation
Kantor is actively engaged in promoting tolerance and reconciliation in Europe. In 2008, he founded the European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation (ECTR). The ECTR is a non-governmental organization composed of former heads of European states, Nobel Peace Prize laureates and other world renowned individuals for their achievements in "promoting tolerance". The ECTR was established to fight xenophobia, extremism and anti-Semitism, monitor European countries’ adherence to principles of tolerance, develop practical initiatives, and make recommendations for promoting mutual understanding between cultures. The ECTR has encouraged state surveillance of citizens deemed "intolerant".
In 2007, Kantor founded and was elected president of the International Luxembourg Forum on Preventing Nuclear Catastrophe, an international non-governmental organisation uniting leading world-renowned experts on nuclear non-proliferation, materials and delivery vehicles. The Luxembourg Forum’s activities are aimed at discussing nuclear security and non-proliferation issues, as well as elaborating proposals and recommendations to politicians and diplomats regarding the reinforcement of nuclear security. It works to prevent trivialization of the nuclear threat in the modern world and aims to provide trustworthy information on the current situation in states and regions of concern (the Middle East, the Korean Peninsula and South Asia).
Honors and awards
Kantor received the following government awards: Order of Friendship (Russia, 1998), Order of Merit (Poland, 2005), Order of Prince Yaroslav the Wise (Ukraine, 2006), Order of Leopold (Belgium, 2009), Chevalier of the National Order of the Legion of Honour (France, 2012), the Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic (Italy, 2013), Grand Cross of the National Order For Merit (Romania, 2014) and Officer of the National Order of the Legion of Honour (France, 2014).
In addition, he received an honorary doctorate from Tel-Aviv University (2004); the Medal of Merit for Medal “Deserved for Tolerance” by the Ecumenical Foundation Tolerance (2011); and the European Jewish Leadership Award (2012).
Kantor has been recognized for three consecutive years as one of the '50 Most Influential Jews in the World'.
Kantor serves as the president of the Museum of Avant-Garde Mastery (MAGMA), founded in 2001 in Moscow on Kantor’s initiative. The Museum contains the world’s largest and most important private collection of 20th Century Russian avant-garde art. The movement flourished in the former Soviet Union from approximately 1890 to 1930 and included such artists as Marc Chagall, Chaim Soutine, Mark Rothko and Kandinsky.