(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
A bomb that exploded in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev only meters from the car
of local Jewish leader and tycoon Vadim Rabinovich on Monday was not a hate
crime, according to Foreign Ministry officials in Jerusalem.
“To the best
of our knowledge it was not an anti-Semitic incident,” ministry spokesman Paul
Hirschson told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.
Rabinovich is the founder
of the Jewish cable news channel JN1, co-chairman of the European Jewish
Parliament and president of the All-Ukrainian Jewish Congress. A bomb was
reportedly hurled at his car as it pulled away from the television network’s
headquarters in Kiev Monday afternoon, causing what JN1 termed “extensive damage
to nearby vehicles and buildings.”
An unidentified woman told police she
saw a young man of medium height wearing a baseball cap that covered most of his
face flee the scene immediately after the explosion, the Comments website
Other witnesses said the explosion was strong enough to shatter
the windows of nearby houses.
In addition to being involved in Jewish
organizations, Rabinovich, 60, is an importer, energy magnate and president of
FC Arsenal Kyiv, a professional soccer club in Kiev.
In January, the
All-Ukrainian Jewish Congress issued a statement in which the organization
claimed that “a senior official from the current government visited Rabinovich
on January 17 and threatening harassment, including physical violence, demanded
that the JN1 television channel be transferred to them within a
In 2003 The New York Times
reported that Rabinovich had been denied entry into the United States and speculated that the ban may be due to indirect links with elements of organized crime.
speaking to the Post by phone on Tuesday through an interpreter, speculated on
the probable cause of the attempt on his life. Asked about a possible
anti-Semitic motive, he replied that he “no longer has any businesses in the
Ukraine” except for “Jewish” endeavors and “Jewish mass media,” seemingly
implying that he believes the attack to be connected to these
His network, which has been nicknamed the “Jewish Al Jazeera,”
reported on possible motives for the attempt its owner’s life, noting that
police investigators are “exploring the possibility that the attack could be
linked to attempts made by Ukrainian government officials to seize control of
JN1 in early 2013.”
Meanwhile, Oleksandr Feldman, president of the
Ukrainian Jewish Committee and a member of the Ukrainian parliament, noted that
he believes it is not yet clear whether the bombing was an anti-Semitic act or
not. “I talked to Mr. Rabinovich and he himself not sure what it was,” he told
the Post. “Anyway, as anti-Semitism is growing in this country, any attack on a
public Jewish leader must be taken into consideration.”
attempted bombing of a Jewish community center in Lutsk several years ago,
Feldman said that in that case, “law enforcement did not find anyone and said
that it was act of hooliganism.”
“Here also there is a very little chance
that perpetrators will be found,” he said.
According to the World Jewish
Congress, Ukraine has the fifth largest Jewish population in the world, with
over 110,000 Jews in Kiev alone.
Members of the local community have been
apprehensive over their security since the far Right Svoboda (Freedom) party won
more than 10 percent of the vote in Ukraine’s parliamentary
elections.JTA contributed to this report.