Vandals desecrate Belarus Holocaust memorial

Hitherto unknown group scatters leaflets warning of "uncompromising struggle against enemies and traitors of our Fatherland."

swastika 88 (photo credit:)
swastika 88
(photo credit: )
Vandals desecrated a memorial to Jewish victims of the Nazi Holocaust, painting a swastika in the center of it and scattering leaflets that warned against "enemies and traitors of our Fatherland," a Jewish leader said Monday. In the incident overnight, attackers also threw white paint on sculptures that are part of the memorial - called Yama, or "The Pit" - in the center of the Belarusian capital, Minsk, said Yakov Basin of the Union of Belarusian Jewish Social Organizations and Societies. A previously unknown group calling itself White Rus claimed responsibility. "This action marks the beginning of uncompromising struggle against enemies and traitors of our Fatherland," it said in leaflets scattered around the memorial. The Minsk prosecutor's office on Monday called the incident "petty hooliganism" and said it wouldn't launch a criminal probe. The memorial honoring the estimated 800,000 Jews who were killed in Belarus by the Nazis has been vandalized several times in recent years. Perpetrators have never been found. Basin said that a swastika and anti-Semitic graffiti were also painted overnight on a building housing a Jewish cultural center in Minsk. "The authorities pretend that there is no ... anti-Semitism in Belarus," he said. About 25,000 Jews now live in Belarus, a mostly Slavic nation of 10 million that was home to a substantial Jewish minority before the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. Some 800,000 Jews were killed in Belarus by the Nazis, and many have fled the country since the 1991 Soviet collapse.