Yesterday afternoon, Sergey Ustinov, a prominent Russian Jewish community leader and director of the Museum of the History of Jews in Russia, was shot in the neck outside his office, next to the museum. He underwent surgery last night and is in stable condition. Mr. Ustinov is an active member of the Russian Jewish Congress and helped found the museum in 2011.
It's unknown if the assailant's motive was anti-Semitic in nature. NCSEJ joins with the Russian Jewish Congress's appeal to Russia's Interior Minister to fully investigate this attack. We will continue to update you on the investigation as it progresses.
President Obama thanked President Putin by phone this week for Russia's efforts in helping to conclude the recent negotiations on Iran's nuclear program.
Please see below for a link to a special Iran section of the weekly update, including Russia and Israel regional perspectives on the deal.
Last Saturday, three people died in a shootout between armed members of the ultra-nationalist Right Sector militia and police in Mukachevo, in Western Ukraine. The violence, likely a struggle between police and the militias to win control of smuggling operations, is exacerbating Ukraine's already difficult situation. It highlights the government's failure thus far to control the volunteer battalions and to fully address corruption.
NCSEJ spoke with members of the region's small Jewish community about the attacks. They stressed that the violence was not ideologically motivated, and voiced approval of President Poroshenko's moves to end the standoff and begin to reform local government.
In Eastern Ukraine, sporadic fighting resumed on Wednesday, with some of the strongest attacks by pro-Russian rebels since the signing of a peace deal in February. Eight government soldiers were killed in less than a day.
Finally, I want to draw your attention to the humanitarian consequences of the ongoing violence in Ukraine for the Jewish community. YNetNews reports from Dnipropetrovsk on the community's efforts to support a large backlog of refugees awaiting emigration to Israel, and the struggle for some to prove their eligibility for aliyah.
Mark B. Levin