Russian PM Putin shakes hands with Russia's Chief Rabbi Lazar during his meeting with religious leaders in Moscow
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar, as he met with religious leaders in Moscow (Reuters)

Russia's chief rabbi has claimed that most of the country's Jews are likely to vote for Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in Sunday's presidential election.

Chabad Rabbi Berel Lazar said that he had not met a single Jew who would vote for tycoon Mikhail Prokhorov, one of Putin's opponents.

"Maybe if there were a more serious choice of candidates they would vote for someone else," he told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

Lazar claimed that all the presidential candidates were "the same old people".

"The fact that a new, young leader has not yet stepped forward in Russia is a problem," he said.

Lazar denied that Putin had a special relationship with Jews, but acknowledged that he had a certain "appreciation" of them as entrepreneurs.

He met Putin at the end of February and thanked him for the government's intolerance of anti-Semitism.

"We don't interfere in political issues - whether for good or bad that's for the experts to say," Lazar said. "But when it comes to Judaism, the attitude in the country is special and it's not because of the United States."

He also spoke of Putin's attitude toward Israel. "The relationship with Israel is important to him," Lazar added. "He wouldn't break all the rules for [Israel], but good relations are important to him."