Ukraine Update #52: Kyiv, Luhansk Jewish communities report; Babi Yar remembrance

WASHINGTON, D.C. September 29, 2014

TO: NCSEJ Leadership and Interested Parties

FROM: Stephen M. Greenberg, NCSEJ Chairman;
Alexander Smukler, NCSEJ President;
Mark B. Levin, NCSEJ Executive Director


Ukraine Update #52


Despite a formal ceasefire agreement, violence in Ukraine has continued. Nine Ukrainian soldiers and three civilians were killed and at least twenty-seven Ukrainians were injured in Donetsk, last night and today.

This most-recent spike in violence jeopardizes the ceasefire agreement between the Ukrainian government and pro-Russian separatists in Eastern Ukraine, which envisioned the creation of a nineteen-mile buffer zone and a gradual pullout of forces by both sides.

Nevertheless, the Ukrainian authorities say they are still pursuing a diplomatic solution to the conflict.

In what appears to be an attempt to compromise with Russia over the Association Agreement with Ukraine, the European Union announced today that the implementation of a free-trade agreement with Ukraine will be delayed until late 2015.

Ukraine is also continuing talks with Russia this week in attempt to reach an interim agreement on natural gas shipments. As the winter season approaches, concerns are growing about the potential worsening of the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, if the gas dispute between Ukraine and Russia remains unresolved.

NCSEJ had an opportunity to discuss the growing humanitarian crisis as well as other issues of importance to the Jewish community with Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk last week. The meeting, which included representatives from a number of NCSEJ member agencies, took place at the opening of the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York City.

NCSEJ spoke today with the Jewish community in Kyiv. They reported that a ceremony was held today at the Babi Yar memorial, commemorating the 73rd anniversary of the Babi Yar massacre. President Petro Poroshenko, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Oleksandr Turchynov, and representatives from the state and local government, the Jewish community, and other religious groups were in attendance.

According to community reports, prior to the ceremony, the Babi Yar Menorah Monument (dedicated to the Jews killed at Babi Yar) was desecrated with swastikas and other graffiti.

The Jewish community also reported an attempt to vandalize Kyiv's Podol Synagogue on the eve of Rosh Hashanah.

NCSEJ expressed concern about these incidents to Ukrainian authorities and urged them to investigate. Meeting with NCSEJ last week, Prime Minister Yatsenyuk condemned the Babi Yar memorial's desecration and vowed to find those responsible. Kyiv Mayor Vitaly Klitschko has also condemned these acts of vandalism and vowed to "immediately stop" any actions or statements aimed at inciting ethnic hatred. According to the Kyiv Jewish community, Ukraine's security services have opened an investigation into both incidents.

NCSEJ also spoke with the Jewish community of Luhansk. Jewish community representatives said that despite the uncertainty about the potential increase of violence in Luhansk, the community celebrated the Jewish New Year. Over forty Jews gathered on Thursday morning for services at the Luhansk synagogue. The synagogue, however, remains cut off from electricity due to severe damage to the city's infrastructure. 


Founded in 1971, NCSEJ represents the organized American Jewish community in monitoring and advocating on behalf of the estimated 1.5 million Jews in Eastern Europe and Eurasia, including the 15 successor states of the former Soviet Union. 
Phone: 202-898-2500 
NCSEJ is a beneficiary of The Jewish Federations of North America and the National Federation/Agency Alliance through its network of Federations. 
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