(photo credit: REUTERS)
An Israeli media report on a Ukrainian woman who recently immigrated has caused consternation among pro-Russian separatists in the east of the former Soviet republic, with representatives of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic calling on Jerusalem to censor her story.
Last week, Israel’s Russian-language Channel 9 reported on the arrival of a pregnant woman detained by rebels for more than a month on a flight organized by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews.
The woman, whose family requested that she not be identified by name, was taken from her home in Donetsk in mid-June by three armed men and accused of harboring government sympathies.
Speaking with The Jerusalem Post,
her mother accused the rebels of planting a sniper rifle in the garage of their house during a subsequent search. Released in a prisoner trade, the woman was forced to confess to having acted as an armed combatant on behalf of the Ukrainian ultra-nationalist Pravy Sektor organization.
“We would like to stress that in the course of investigation held by the DPR state security and inner affairs agencies there is no evidence that can prove such kind of information,” the separatist foreign ministry said in a statement about reports of the woman’s immigration.
Calling the Channel 9 report “proofless [sic] materials of obviously agitational and provocative character,” the separatists called on Israel’s Foreign Ministry to pay “special attention” and not “let such cases happen in the future, as despite primitive level of these provocations, they necessitate the risk of stirring xenophobia and anti-Semitism.”
Jerusalem is “aware of the issue” but will not comment, a ministry spokesman said.
Asked to respond, Andrei Harzov, the editor of Channel 9’s website, told the Post he had not received a direct request from the DPR, adding that Israel does not recognize the separatists and that they are an illegal armed group.
The request, he said, was for the “sole purpose of propaganda.”
In February, Alexander Zakharchenko, president of the DPR, told reporters that Ukraine is run by “miserable Jews,” leading to condemnations from Jewish organizations. In a recent interview with Russian Jewish news website lechaim.ru, the DNR’s foreign minister Alexander Kofman, who is Jewish, denied the leadership of the breakaway territory is in any way anti-Semitic.
According to Vyacheslav A. Likhachev, a Ukrainian anti-Semitism researcher, the separatists “realized the harm to the image of the [their] regimes, connected with anti-Semitism” and are seeking to correct it.
“They understand the importance of this subject. It is the only reasonable reason for the publication of the statement,” he asserted.
“You can see my daughter in the video of the press conference,” the woman’s mother told the Post. “It’s undeniable that she was detained by them.”