Weekly News Update 

WASHINGTON, D.C. September 4, 2015
TO: NCSEJ Leadership and Interested Parties
FROM: Stephen M. Greenberg, Chairman;
Alexander Smukler, NCSEJ President;
Mark B. Levin, NCSEJ Executive Director
Dear Friend,

Early this week, Ukraine's government's move to decentralize the country's political and economic structure and to grant more autonomy to the separatist regions sparked violent protests. At least three people died and over a hundred were injured as a result of clashes between police and ultra-nationalist protesters outside of parliament, as members voted on the decentralization measure.

Although popular support for the ultranationalist Svoboda and the Right Sector parties has declined, reports of the ultranationalists' vigilantism have grown in recent weeks, raising concerns about the government's ability to control the far right groups. The update include an Agence France Presse profile on the Svoboda party.

While the parliament passed the first reading of the decentralization reforms, the bill will need a larger majority for final approval in a planned December vote. Critics say that the bill, by granting autonomy to the rebel regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, would prevent any future reintegration of the regions into government-controlled territory. Western leaders have welcomed the legislation as a step in bringing Ukraine into compliance with the terms of the Minsk ceasefire agreement.

I want to highlight a JTA story on aliyah from Ukraine and Russia. The story details the growing numbers of those leaving for Israel, and the programs available for those considering making aliyah.

The Anatevka Jewish refugee center opened in Kyiv this week, designed to provide housing for hundreds of Jewish refugees displaced by the war. The opening ceremony was attended by high-level government officials, members of the Kyiv administration, representatives from the U.S. embassy in Ukraine, and members of the Jewish community.

As the U.S. and Russia continue to work together on the Iran deal, the U.S. has imposed sanctions on Russian and Chinese companies for violating restrictions on weapons trade with Iran, Syria, and North Korea. The U.S. also announced additional sanctions on Russia over Ukraine, adding 29 more individuals to the existing sanctions list. Russian authorities have criticized the move, and said that Moscow will respond in kind.

Mark B. Levin
Executive Director

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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. 
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