Kiev rabbi plays down neo-Nazi threat from Ukrainian nationalists

By REUTERS
March 12, 2014 20:31

 
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KIEV - A leading Ukrainian rabbi said on Wednesday he saw no sign of hostility toward Jews from nationalists involved in last month's uprising but was cautious on whether there could be a rise in anti-Semitic threats.

Russia brands of the some groups that helped to oust President Viktor Yanukovich as neo-Nazis, highlighting their admiration for Ukrainians who fought against the Red Army in World War II as one of the reasons for its takeover of the majority Russian-populated Crimea.

But Moshe Reuven Azman, a senior rabbi in the capital Kiev, told a news conference he was not aware of new anti-Semitic acts since Yanukovich's fall and had not heard anti-Jewish statements from leaders of far-right parties. He cautioned against speculation on the issue being "exploited" for political ends.

"There's no big, general Ukrainian problem," Azman said, playing down some instances of Jews being attacked in the street and the firebombing of a provincial synagogue during the past few months of protests. He contrasted post-Soviet Ukraine's tolerance with "official anti-Semitism" in Soviet times.

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