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December 12, 2013 2:38 pm

Ukrainian Jews Fear Anti-Semitic Backlash From Protests

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Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. Photo: Igor Kruglenko via Wikimedia Commons. Members of Ukraine’s Jewish community are expressing concern that anti-Semitic sentiment could rise in the country amid the ongoing protests of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s decision to freeze plans to join a free trade agreement with the European Union. Catherine Ashton, the EU’s foreign policy chief, has indicated Thursday that Yanukovych now “intends to sign” the agreement, Fox News reported.

Eduard Dolinsky, director of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee, said that he has not heard of any attacks against Jews, but protesters affiliated with the Ukrainian political opposition party Svaboda have been calling for the death of “enemies” of Ukraine, with chants similar to those used by Ukrainian Nazi collaborators.

“We have turned to the American Jewish Committee and the [American Jewish] Joint [Distribution Committee] to formulate emergency plans,” Dolinsky said, according to theJerusalem Post.

In many former Soviet Union nations, political and economic instability as well as the potential use of the “Jewish card” by authoritarian regimes are major issues for Jewish communities, Josef Zisels, chairman of the Association of Jewish Organizations and Communities (Vaad) of Ukraine, told in an email interview translated from Russian earlier this week. This is an issue that is “quite successfully resolved in the Eastern European countries that have joined the EU in the last 20 years,” Zisels said.

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