||Details of several blood libel affairs in Russia and Damascus. In the 19th century Russia has been the principal perpetuator of the blood libel. The first blood-libel case in Russia occurred in the vicinity of Senno, south of Vitebsk, on the eve of Passover 1799, when the body of a woman was found near a Jewish tavern: four Jews were arrested on the ground of the "popular belief that the Jews require Christian blood." Apostates supplied the court with extracts from a distorted translation of the Shulhan Arukh and Shevet Yehudah. The accused were released through lack of evidence. Official Russian circles were divided in their views on the libel. A number of inquiries into the charges were instituted, while the views of the czars themselves fluctuated; the emperors and popes of the Middle Ages can be pointed to as models of enlightenment in comparison with the rulers of czarist Russia.
Between 1805 and 1816 various cases of blood libel occurred in places within the Pale of Settlement, and the investigations always ended by exposing the lie on which they were based. In an attempt to stop their dissemination the minister of ecclesiastic affairs, A. Golitsyn, sent a circular to the heads of the guberniyas (provinces) throughout Russia on March 6, 1817, to this effect. Basing his instruction on the fact that both the Polish monarchs and the popes have invariably invalidated the libels, and that they had been frequently refuted by judicial inquiries, he stated in his circular that the czar directed "that henceforward the Jews shall not be charged with murdering Christian children, without evidence, and through prejudice alone that they allegedly require Christian blood." Nevertheless Alexander I (1801–25) gave instructions to revive the inquiry in the case of the murder of a Christian child in Velizh (near Vitebsk) where the assassins had not been found and local Jewish notables had been blamed for the crime. The trial lasted for about ten years. Although the Jews were finally exonerated, Nicholas I later refused to endorse the 1817 circular, giving as a reason that he considered that "there are among the Jews savage fanatics or sects requiring Christian blood for their ritual, and especially since to our sorrow such fearful and astonishing groups also exist among us Christians." Other blood libels occurred in Telsiai (Telz) in the guberniya (province) of Kovno, in 1827, and Zaslav (Izyaslav), in the government of Volhynia, in 1830.
The blood libel, in the various forms it assumed and the tales with which it was associated, is one of the most terrible expressions of the combination of human cruelty and credulity. No psychological or sociological research can convey the depths to which the numerous intentional instigators of such libels, and the more numerous propagators of this phantasmagoria, sank. It resulted in the torture, murder, and expulsion, of countless Jews, and the misery of insults. The Jew had only to refer to himself, his upbringing, laws, way of life, and attitude to other people and to cruelty, to perceive the falsity and baselessness of these allegations.