Man counts money near currency exchange in Kiev [file].
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Several Jewish refugees fleeing the civil war raging in eastern Ukraine have found themselves penniless after their life savings were stolen from a bank in Kiev, local media reported.
According to JewishNews.com.ua, a number of Jews who left the separatist stronghold of Donetsk to escape the violence, had money stolen from a safety deposit box at a branch of Alliance Bank belonging to community member Sergei Nuzbrokh, who was holding their money for them.
According to a letter obtained by the Ukrainian Jewish website, Pinchas Vishedski, Donetsk’s rabbi, accused the SBU, the Ukrainian Security Service, of stealing the funds.
“In December of last year, the Jewish community of Donbass was shaken up by events that took place at one Kiev bank. Under strange circumstances, large sums were stolen from safe boxes, including money belonging to Donetsk refugees,” Vishedski reportedly wrote.
“On December 22, law-enforcement officers entered a bank...and broke into the depository, using force, destroying video cameras and entry detectors. The boxes were opened without an investigator, witnesses and bank employees. During the ‘search’ the entire contents of the boxes disappeared, including boxes in which Jewish refugees from Donetsk kept their savings.”
“The depositors and owners of the stolen money are private individuals, Jews from Donetsk, who attended our synagogue and were part of the community,” the rabbi told Jewish News.
“They went to Kiev, a city that was not familiar to them. They didn’t go there because they wanted to, but because they were forced to leave their native Donetsk, taking what they had with them. While the state of their homes in the East were uncertain, many of them decided to repatriate to Israel. They had savings. According to Ukrainian law, a person cannot take more than $10,000 out of the country. And if they had more, where could they leave the money, where could they keep their last savings?”
According to the Jewish Agency, Ukrainian aliya was up 196 percent last year.
“Aliya from Lugansk and Donetsk alone increased by 1,032%,” spokesman Avi Mayer said. “We have boosted our operations in Ukraine in order to deal with the influx and have created a 24-hour hotline to handle aliya inquiries.”
“We placed the sum that we were given in a safety deposit box at Alliance Bank. By December 2014, 12 members of the community had collected all the funds they had entrusted to me. Only six people still kept their funds there, along with my personal funds. Could anyone imagine that law-enforcement officers would rob citizens in broad daylight in the center of Kiev?” Nuzbrokh asked Jewish News.