Amid fatal clashes between police and demonstrators in Kiev, Jewish community representatives cancelled an annual Holocaust remembrance event out of safety concerns.
Some 400 Jews were expected to attend the event on Jan. 27, International Holocaust Remembrance Day, at Kiev’s Brodsky Synagogue, according to Eduard Dolinsky, the executive director of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee. But as the death toll in the clashes reached at least four people on Wednesday, organizers decided to cancel.
Violence re-erupted this week over new laws limiting the right to protest in Ukraine, which has seen a wave of rallies and riots in recent months in connection with the government’s refusal to sign an agreement which would have furthered its integration into the European Union.
Russia, which supplies much of Ukraine’s gas and other imports, has been said to press Ukraine not to pursue closer cooperation with the European Union. Ukrainian Jews appear split on the issue.
Last week, several unidentified men took part in attacks against two haredi Orthodox Jews, in what may have been anti-Semitic incidents. In one of them, a Hebrew teacher was stabbed and sustained serious injuries and a massive loss of blood. Ukrainian police, who are already spread out thin because of the protests, have so far not caught any suspects in connection with these assaults.
On Tuesday, Rabbi Boruch Gorin of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia called on Ukrainian authorities to place Jewish community institutions in Kiev under protection at all hours of the day. In a statement made to the RIA Novosty news agency, he appeared to link the anti-government protests to the two attacks on Jews.
“Unfortunately, among the opposition leaders and opposition forces, well-defined, anti-Semitic speeches have already been recorded. This is extremely dangerous,” Gorin said, in what appears to be a reference to the anti-Semitic and anti-Russian Svoboda party.