Saturday, April 19, 2014

Ukraine Crisis: Attacks on Minorities Reported in Areas Held by Pro-Russia Gunmen

The flag of Other Russia, an ultranationalist anti-
migrant Russian group, flew this week in front of a
barricaded building seized by pro-Russia gunmen
in Ukraine, according to this photo in Ukrainska 
Pravda. The flag features a hand grenade on a
red background. Far-right Russian militants are
reportedly active in pro-Russian protests
in eastern Ukraine.
Roma people (also known as Gypsies) are reportedly being attacked in their homes, beaten and robbed in Sloviansk, a city in eastern Ukraine held by pro-Russia gunmen, says this item today in the Russian-language News of Donbass.

The news follows a report on Friday that pro-Russia militia leader Vyacheslav Ponomaryov had asked Sloviansk residents to report suspicious people, "particularly those who speak Ukrainian."

Ukrainian prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk Friday condemned the attacks on the Roma and an anti-Semitic leaflet handed out in Donetsk calling on Jewish residents to register with pro-Russia militants and pay a $50 fee or be deported and have their property confiscated.

"The ideology and practice of pogroms, which is being exported from one of our neighbouring countries, will not succeed in Ukraine," he said.

Ukraine's SBU security agency has opened an investigation.

Far-Right Russian Activists

Pro-Russia militants of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic denied issuing the leaflet, but The Daily Beast reports some in the local Jewish community are still concerned.

Donetsk chief rabbi Pinhas Vyshedski said the spokesman of the pro-Russia gunmen, Aleksander Kriakov, is "the most famous anti-Semite in the region."

Vyshedski questioned how a group purporting to oppose "fascists" in Ukraine's new government could pick Kriakov as its spokesman.

"Until today, there were all sorts of thugs and confused men in this building."
- Dmitry Sinegorsky, pro-Russia gunman

Dmitry Sinegorsky, a "security supervisor" with the pro-Russia gunmen, said the leaflet may have been an attempt to discredit his group or a "pure provocation."

"See, until today, there were all sorts of thugs and confused men in this building," he told The Daily Beast. "But as from today we begin a self-cleansing process."

The developments follow growing evidence that Russian president Vladimir Putin has aligned himself with far-right and neo-Nazi groups at home and abroad to pursue his policies, including in Ukraine.

Far-right Russian activists have appeared at pro-Russia protests in eastern Ukraine, including from the ultranationalist anti-migrant group Other Russia, this Kyiv Post item said.

The group's flag, featuring a hand grenade on a red background, flew this week in front of a barricaded building seized by pro-Russia militants, according to a photo in this Ukrainska Pravda story yesterday.

Over 200 Ukrainian Jewish community leaders signed an open letter to Putin in March dismissing his claims that Ukraine's new government is anti-Semitic and saying anti-Semitism is worse in Russia than in Ukraine.

The letter said Russian neo-Nazis "are encouraged by your security services."

See also
4 myths about the Ukraine crisis, Crimea and NATO
7 reasons why the Crimea referendum results aren't credible

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