Weekly News Update 
WASHINGTON, D.C. March 20, 2015


TO: NCSEJ Leadership and Interested Parties

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

On Monday, the annual march commemorating Latvia's Waffen SS veterans who fought alongside the Nazis during World War II took place in Riga. NCSEJ has regularly monitored the Waffen SS marches, and repeatedly urged the Latvian authorities not to participate. This year, members of the Latvian government did not take part in the march.

Last week, Israel opened its first embassy in Vilnius, Lithuania. This development is of major symbolic significance for Israeli-Lithuanian relations and to Lithuania's Jewish community, which before WWII numbered close to 250,000 but was largely exterminated by the Nazis.

March 18 marked the one-year anniversary of Russia's annexation of Crimea. Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed thousands of people who gathered in Moscow to celebrate the takeover, and called Crimea the source of Russia's "historical origins" and its "spirituality and statehood." Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said that the annexation of Crimea is "an assault on international law" and urged the international community to maintain pressure on Russia to return Crimea to Ukraine, and to respect the rights of Ukrainians and ethnic minorities in the peninsula. The update includes several articles that detail the situation in Crimea since the annexation.

On Tuesday, the Ukrainian parliament approved amendments to the law on the special status of rebel-controlled areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. These new laws postpone greater autonomy for the regions until they hold new elections in line with Ukrainian law and under international observation. Pro-Russian separatist leaders and the Russian government sharply criticized the move, and the separatist rebels threatened to abandon the ceasefire agreement.

During this week's summit in Brussels, EU leaders agreed to keep sanctions against Russia in place, linking them with the "complete implementation" of a ceasefire deal. The Kremlin criticized the decision and accused the Ukrainian government of violating the terms of the ceasefire agreement.



Mark B. Levin

Executive Director

Please visit http://ncsej.org/NCSEJ-Wkly.pdf  
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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. 
Website:  www.ncsej.org   
Email:  ncsejinfo@ncsej.org 
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.