Russia has in part justified its invasion, annexation of, and subterfuge in Ukrainian territories by claiming it was necessary to protect Ukrainian Jews from the “anti-semitic” and “fascist” new government in Kiev. Meanwhile, all Jews over 16-years-old in Eastern Ukraine are being told to “register” as ‘Jews’ by Russian separatists forces now claiming to be the lawful governing authority in the city of Donetsk, as reported by the Daily Mail.
Leaflets under the letterhead “Donetsk Temporary Government” were handed out by uniformed, masked men waiting for Jews leaving synagogues on Wednesday morning following Passover services. They ordered all local Jews to submit property lists, and to pay unspecified “registration fees” to the “Temporary Authority” on the pain of asset seizures, and even deportation.
The so-called registration order carried the signature of Denis Pushilin, the self-proclaimed president of the “Donetsk Temporary Government”. Pushilin denied having signed any such order.The leaflet reads that all people ‘of Jewish descent’ must report to the Commissioner for Nationalities in the Donetsk Regional Administration building and pay a $50 “registration fee.”
The “order” claims the registration is necessary to prevent the region from falling into the hands of supporters of the World War II era Ukrainian fascist resistance leader Stepan Bandera.Since Jews were Bandera’s primary victims during World War II, it seems more than odd that they should now be accused of harboring secret sympathies for him. During World War II, Ukraine was the site of some of worst massacres in all Jewish history.
More than 900,000 Jews, two-thirds being Ukrainian Jews, were murdered by the Nazis on Ukrainian soil. Nazi extermination efforts in Ukraine were measurably assisted by untold numbers of Ukrainian collaborators who pledged fealty to Bandera.The wording of the order reminded some elderly Ukrainian Jews of the fascist tactics and language used in the wake of the German invasion in 1941.While the topic of Ukrainian complicity in the crimes of the Nazis was taboo during the Soviet era, the Holocaust is now an openly recognized fact of Ukrainian national life.
Ukraine’s government, far from covering up the atrocities, has in recent years, been active in supporting Holocaust memorial projects, and educational activities designed to integrate it into part of Ukraine’s national history and identity.While government sponsored or supported anti-Semitism no longer exists in Ukraine, much unlike Russia itself, there are no shortage of nationalist parties and movements promoting hatred of Jews.
Ukraine’s cultural elite establishment treat Jews have on the whole, treated Jews and Jewish history in Ukraine with great sympathy; much unlike Russia itself. As a general rule, the farther west one travels in Ukraine, the more anti-semitic or Judeo-phobic sentiment one encounters.Russian security services are widely known to be deeply involved in supporting neo-Nazi nationalist groups inside Russia that openly promote Jew hatred and anti-Semitic views.
A regular on Russia’s state-controlled TV is the notorious Aleksandr A. Prokhanov, the editor of an openly anti-Semitic newspaper that regularly accuses Jews of wild conspiracies.Most of Ukraine’s estimated 225,000 Jews live in Eastern Ukraine, where the leaflets demanding “registration” were issued. Most Ukrainian Jews say they fear Vladimir Putin far more than fear their own government.
Not only did they not recoil in fear about a fascist revival in Ukraine following the March change in government in Kiev, residents of the Jewish community of Dnipropetrovsk, one of Ukraine’s largest near Donetsk, rejoiced in the recent naming of one of their own, Ihor Kolomoysky, being named regional governor.