Alexey Ostapenko's car, vandalized with swastikas and the logo of the Ukrainian Azov battalion .
(photo credit: ALEXEY OSTAPENKO)
A car belonging to a Ukrainian immigrant in Bat Yam was found defaced with swastikas and the logo of the Ukrainian Azov Battalion on Tuesday evening.
“I was in shock when I found it,” said Alexey Ostapenko, who moved to Israel from Kiev 16 years ago, blaming “pro-Russian separatists” and “Putin supporters” for the act. Ostapenko is involved with efforts to ship aid to Ukraine and believes that the presence of the logo of Azov, a pro-government militia with ties to neo-Nazis, indicates that the attack was nationalistically motivated.
“Why connect me to that?” he asked. “We try not to help Azov. It’s a shock. It’s impossible to see this in Israel. This is the type of thing that happened in Warsaw in history.
For half a day I couldn’t get back to normal.”
Russia has repeatedly accused the Ukrainian government of being Nazi, a charge denied by Kiev and by local Jewish leaders.
Despite Azov’s neo-Nazi ties, Ukrainian Jews have expressed greater concern over Russia’s involvement in their country than about anti-Semitism, saying that separatists are a bigger priority than the Jews even for the most extreme racists.
While both pro-Ukraine and pro-Russia groups operate in Israel, protesting and sending medical supplies and clothes to their side in the war, Tuesday’s incident appears to be the first time that the war has spilled over into Israel in a criminal way.