'Rabinovich assassination attempt not hate crime'

Foreign Ministry says assassination attempt on Jewish tycoon was not linked to anti-Semitism.

Vadim Rabinovich (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Vadim Rabinovich
(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 reported.
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 week.”
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.
Rabinovich himself, 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 matters.
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.”
Citing an 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.