a spate of attacks on synagogues, cemeteries and Holocaust memorials, as well
as on other Jewish facilities, several Jewish individuals were assaulted. There
appeared to have been a major decline in antisemitic articles published in the
Ukrainian press in 2008. Several individuals were convicted of antisemitic
According to the last official census (2001), about 105,000 Jews
live in Ukraine; however, Jewish organizations estimate that 250,000-400,000 people
are entitled to immigrate to Israel. The Jewish umbrella organizations are the
Vaad of Ukraine (Association of Jewish Organizations and Communities), the
Jewish Confederation of Ukraine, the All-Ukrainian Jewish Congress, the
Association of Jewish Religious Organizations of Ukraine, and the Federation of
Jewish Communities of Ukraine (Chabad).
Both the Jewish Agency and the Joint are very active in Ukraine, and Jewish charity organizations, supported by the Joint, operate in many cities.
Many schools, Sunday schools, kindergartens, yeshivas, Hebrew ulpans and summer
camps for children are supported by the Or Avner fund. Other Jewish educational
institutions are the International Solomon University in Kiev (with a branch in
Kharkov), Beit Khana women’s college in Dnepropetrovsk, the Institute of Jewish Studies in Kiev, the Ukrainian Center for Holocaust Studies and the
religious Jewish University in Odessa. Jewish publications include the Jewish
Observer of the Jewish Confederation of Ukraine (closed in early 2009), Hadashot
(Vaad of Ukraine), VEK (All-Ukrainian Jewish Congress), and the literary
who make antisemitic (and racist) statements can be found across the political
spectrum. Nevertheless, extreme right political organizations such as the Ukrainian
Conservative Party (UKP) and the Ukrainian National Assembly (UNA) and others, which
promote antisemitism as an integral part of their platform, have been losing
electoral power, and although the threshold for entering parliament in Ukraine
is low compared to other European countries, they have not been able to gain
enough votes to enter it independently.
out against Ukraine President Viktor Yushchenko on July 1, 2008, Oleg
Tiagnibok, former member of the Our Ukraine bloc of President Viktor Yushchenko
and now leader of the extremist All Ukrainian Union Svoboda (Liberty/Freedom) –
2007) declared that "Kikes and Moskali [derogatory term for
Russians] and their minions have seized power, and without a tough, merciless
purge, there is nothing we can do about it."
September 6, Sergeii Kirichenko, a member of the Kherson city council from the Union
of Leftists (established in December 2007, with goals such as empowerment of
local communities, providing state support for poor regions, and granting Russian
the status of second state language), praised the Nazi occupation of Kherson
during World War II on the local radio program “Vik.” The leadership of the
local Jewish community sent a letter to the leader of the party, Vasilii Volga,
complaining that Kirichenko had already made antisemitic statements in the past
on the program, such as accusing the Jews of robbing the Ukrainian people and
plotting to enslave them. He also posted on his website a "Catechism of a
Jew in the USSR" − a version of The Protocols of the Elders of
Zion. In April 2009 Kirichenko was expelled from the party because of
Incidents and Vandalism
to the Congress of National Communities of Ukraine (CNCU, an NGO established in
2001), 84 people were victims of hate crimes (4 dead) in Ukraine in 2008. Most (including some students) were from Africa, central and south-eastern
Asia, the Middle East, Caucasia and Latin America, but a few were Jews.
January 24, 2008, Rabbi Dov-Ber Baitman, a teacher at the Jewish Shiurey Torah educational
center in Dnepropetrovsk, was beaten and abused with antisemitic insults by
four youths when he left the Golden Rose synagogue after evening classes. Six
weeks later the police announced that they had identified the attackers but not
caught them because they gone into hiding. In May, Dmitrii Groisman, a human
rights activist of Jewish origin, was beaten near his apartment building in Vinnitsa. Groisman said that the attack was probably connected to his human rights activity.
In September, a group of youths taunted the chief rabbi of Vinnitsa, Shaul
Horovitz, his 3-year-old son, and a guest from Canada with antisemitic insults,
such as "We’ll kill all Yids," "We’ll bury you in the ground,"
and "Heil Hitler" in the center of the city. When the Jews did not
react, the youths started beating them. A driver in a passing car helped them
and reported the incident to the police, who arrived and arrested some of the
was a spate of attacks on synagogues, cemeteries and Holocaust memorials, as
well as on other Jewish facilities, in 2008. Following are some examples. On
November 22, eight wooden crosses were erected on the site where a synagogue is
to be built in Poltava. The local chief rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Segal labeled the
act "a provocation aimed at stirring religious hatred in the city,"
and preventing the establishment of the synagogue. A group calling itself the
"Regional Association of Repressed Persons" took responsibility for
the act. On December 1, stones were thrown at the synagogue in Rovno, breaking several windows. The perpetrators escaped before the police arrived.
Windows of nearby buildings were broken too.
were painted at the 18th century burial site of Rabbi Levi Itzhak, as well as
on other gravestones at the Jewish cemetery in Berdichev in 3 March. The
perpetrators also painted the symbol “14/88” (14 = 14 words: "We must
secure the existence of our people and a future for white children" – a
slogan used by neo-Nazi groups; 88 = Heil Hitler) on several graves nearby. After
a complaint was filed, the police arrested a 21-year-old suspect, leader of a
local skinhead group. In June 2008 he was sentenced to 1˝ years imprisonment.
During the night of April 15, the memorial to Rabbi Aaron at the Jewish
cemetery in Zhitomir was set alight. The perpetrators also painted swastikas, and
antisemitic and satanic graffiti such as "Satan is come" and "Dark
Angel." A few days later the police announced that two high-school pupils
who had been playing soccer near the cemetery had lit a fire there to warm
themselves. The fire had gotten out of control and partly burnt the memorial.
The police did not mention the graffiti.
Holocaust memorial and the "Mourning Mother" memorial, located at a
mass grave in Poltava, were sprayed with paint, Ukrainian national symbols and
racist and antisemitic graffiti, including a Star of David on gallows and the
slogan "Death to the Jews.” The memorial is dedicated to more than 3,000
local Jews murdered by the Nazis on November 23, 1941. The other memorial
commemorates some 5000 Red Army prisoners of war and partisans murdered in the
region during World War II. The Holocaust memorial in Enakievo, Donetsk region, to local Jews murdered in 1942 by the Nazis was vandalized twice in 2008.
late January 2008, the expressions "Achtung Jude,” "Hitler" and
other insults were discovered on the building and fence of the Jewish charity
organization Khesed in Krivoy Rog. In July a gang broke into the offices of the
Jewish youth program "Stars" at the Shalom Chaverim Center for Religious Jewish Youth in Lvov, smashed several windows and beat two workers of the
center with metal rods. The perpetrators also shouted antisemitic insults, such
as "Kikes leave Ukraine" and "Ukraine is occupied by Kikes."
The attackers were a man and a woman living in the same building. They were
caught and fined 119 griven each (about 15 US dollars).
antisemitic graffiti also appeared on non-Jewish facilities. For example, in
late March 2008 posters warning that Jews murder children and use their blood
to make matza for Passover appeared in Sumy, north-east Ukraine. They also accused Jews of a series of recent disappearances and murders of
children in the region. In August posters calling for a boycott of kosher
products were put up outside the Aleksandr Nevsky Russian Orthodox Cathedral in
Kamenetsk-Podolsk. An article distributed inside the cathedral, probably by
pro-Russian activists or Russian nationalists, claimed that the “Kikes” had
created the "artificial state called Ukraine" in order to weaken
Russia; and a Jewish conspiracy, serving the US, was behind the Russian
Revolution in 1917 and the Orange Revolution in 2004.
On 31 October a group entered the Garazh night club in Chernigov during an anti-fascist concert, shouting "Kikes leave our city!" and
"Kikes to the oven." They also attacked several people, caused damage
to property and painted antisemitic and racist graffiti on the walls.
Some 53 antisemitic articles were counted in the Ukrainian press
during 2008, according to a report of the Vaad of
Ukraine. The number, however, is probably much higher due to the proliferation
of regional, religious and other newspapers. Nevertheless, there appears to
have been a major decrease compared to previous years: 2007 − 542; 2006 –
676; and 2005 – 661. The main reason appears to be a decline in the
role of MAUP in antisemitic activity in Ukraine. As the largest private
university in Ukraine with more than 50,000 students, MAUP published the
majority of printed antisemitic materials in Ukraine in the early and mid-2000s.
However, as of September−October 2007 the
"MAUP era" in Ukrainian antisemitism appeared to be coming to an end (see
and this tendency continued in 2008 (partly, it is speculated, due to
reduced interest in their publications with the ascension of the internet). Circulation
of its newspapers decreased and several of them, such as the youth supplement Ukrainskii
Leader of Personal Plus, ceased publication altogether. The only MAUP
newspaper that continued to print antisemitic propaganda was Za Vilnu
Ukrainu. For example, on January 1, 2008 it published a call for Christians
and Muslims not to buy food with a "kosher" label.
early February 2008 the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz published an
interview with Mykola Golavatiy, rector of MAUP, who maintained: "There is
no such thing as antisemitism... it's an invention of scientists ... Those
[Jewish] organizations are antisemitic. Every time there is talk of Jews, they
say it's antisemitism... Chabad gave the world nothing good... This is an
international organization with branches around the world and you cannot say
they are for peace; they do evil things. They are also tied to extremism and
terrorist actions ... Nobody will stop me from researching those negative
things in the history of the Jews."
was expressed in other Ukrainian media, too. On February 5, 2008, for example,
the Ukrainian Antena cable channel broadcast an interview with Kostya Zarudny,
head of the Historical Truth organization.
He said: "We see how the lie of the Holocaust continues in Ukraine, how once again the fantastic figure of six million is brought out, and that in Ukraine one and a half million kikes were supposedly killed... How long is this kike lie
going to brainwash us?" Zarudny has a PhD in history on "the
distorted history of Ukraine."
week later, the same channel aired an interview with political analyst Igor
Mazur on Ukrainian nationalists who fought with the Nazis against the Soviets
during World War II. Responding to criticism
of those justifying Ukrainian activity during this period at a press conference
held in Russia the previous day, Mazur said that "the kike-lovers and
other freaks gathered in Moscow" in order to criticize Ukrainian
politicians who "for the kike's money" betray their nation. According
to Mazur, "the Jews’ task is not to allow the foundation of truly
independent, strong states in Europe... Otherwise, their power will come to an
July 2008 the Informatsionnii bulletin (Information Bulletin, issued by
the Ukrainian Conservative Party), which has a previous record of antisemitism,
published an article titled "Why Was Ukraine Chosen for the Killing of People
by Starvation.” The article accuses American Zionist organizations of
organizing the famine in Ukraine in 1932−33.
July 12, Redaktor, the newspaper of the Plast National Scout
Organization of Ukraine, which won a grant from the president's office and in
2007 was named "the best public organization in Ukraine active in the
patriotic education of youth,” published an article complaining that Jews had
participated in a Ukrainian music festival, which had become "a place
where the enemies of the Ukrainian people committed their satanic rites.”
December 27, the first day of the operation, several Ukrainian Muslim
issued a joint declaration branding Israel’s actions “barbarian bombardment.”
On January 2, during his Friday sermon, Imad Abu al-Rub, imam of the mosque of
the An-Nur Kievan Muslim cultural center in Kiev, put the entire blame for the
violence on Israel. He also held the “Zionists” responsible for “the daily
killing of tens of innocent women, the elderly, and children.”
January 9, members of the Arab diaspora, supported by left-wing activists,
as members of the Communist and Socialist parties, held a demonstration of
several hundreds in front of the UN offices in Kiev. Some held photos of dead children
and ruined buildings, as well as posters reading “Freedom for Palestine” and “Israel – murderer of children.” A similar demonstration took place the following day in Simferopol.
January 24, eight leaflets were found near the entrance to the synagogue in Donetsk, reading “You owe us. Shalom, Jewish brother. You are one of those who kill, burn,
and annihilate the Muslims of Palestine. We can’t be indifferent to crimes
committed by you and world Jewry. You are to blame. You and your children must
be punished as our children and elderly were punished there” (see also General
previous years, Ukraine's leaders, including the president, spoke out publicly
in 2008 against antisemitism and racism. For example, on February 5, a meeting took place in Kiev between Ukraine President Yuschenko and then head of the Jewish
Agency Ze’ev Bielski, during which the former stressed the need to pay more
attention to the issue of antisemitism in general, and to MAUP in particular.
On April 11, Yushchenko asked Prosecutor General Oleksandr Medvedko and Interior
Minister Yuriy Lutsenko "to work out an effective program to counteract all
forms of xenophobia, racial and national intolerance in Ukraine, as well as to
institute criminal proceedings against those guilty of the above-mentioned
crimes" in light of the increase in cases of "xenophobia, racial and
early January 2008 the Ukrainian Security Services announced they had caught
the person who distributed antisemitic leaflets in Odessa in December 2007
signed by the Pravoslav Society of Odessa (see ASW 2007).
According to the preliminary investigation, he distributed the leaflets on his
own initiative. The ADL called on President Yushchenko to publicly condemn
Several persons were convicted of antisemitic activity in 2008. In mid-January the Pecherskii Regional Court in Kiev imposed a four-year suspended sentence on Vasilii
Ostrinskii for distributing antisemitic leaflets in the city in 2007. The leaflets called for the
extermination of the Jews and for an armed uprising in order to establish a
joint Ukrainian-Belarusian-Russian monarchic state.
On April 22, a 48-year-old teacher of Russian language and
literature in Kirovograd, Nikolaii Iakimchuk, was convicted for
telling his pupils in 2005 that "Jews are bad, insolent people… they
should be exterminated, they have no place among people.” He was pardoned
immediately by the court because he was an invalid.
trial of Igor Volin-Danilov, editor of Nashe Delo, opened in Odessa in August. Volin-Danilov had published an antisemitic article titled "Kill the
Best Goys" under the pseudonym Iulii Streicher [Julius Steicher, editor of
Der Stürmer] on March 18 and April 15, 2007. The piece contained false
translations and interpretations of Talmudic texts. The conclusion of the
article was that "the Jewish religion... is criminal and immoral, and only
complete villains and criminals can follow it.” On January 15, 2009, a regional court in Odessa gave Volin-Danilov a suspended sentence of 1˝ years imprisonment.
October 6, the Ukrainian Security Services announced that in February it had
uncovered an extreme right-wing group of 14 members in Kirovograd. The group
had prepared antisemitic leaflets, planned to blow up the local synagogue and
attack Jews and other minorities. The head of the group is a 38-year-old former
August 1, during an online press conference on the obozrevatel.com news site, Josef
Zissels, chairman of the Vaad, assessed the level of antisemitism in Ukraine. According to Zissels, it was much lower than often claimed by observers, especially
from abroad. He referred to the sharp decline in the number of antisemitic
publications and to a certain decrease in attacks on Jews in 2007/8 compared to
previous years. Nevertheless, taking into account not only antisemitic
incidents, but xenophobic acts in general, the problem continued to be very
worrisome. In his opinion, the main reason for the existence of racism in a
society was the passiveness of the authorities and the attitude of the media.
He recommended that the subject of tolerance should be taught at schools.