Hundreds of protesters have been gathering in Yerevan, Armenia since last week, demonstrating against sharp increases in electricity prices. On Monday, authorities attempted to forcefully disband the crowd, using water cannons. Over two hundred people were detained and dozens injured. The government of Armenia has refused to satisfy protesters' demands, and demonstrations continue. Protests have spread to smaller cities in the country.
NCSEJ spoke with leadership of Armenia's Jewish community, who reported that peaceful protests continue, and that the situation is more stable now. The Jewish community has not been directly affected by these events, and ethnic and religious issues have not been brought up.
Community representatives reported that there is deep dissatisfaction among many Armenians with energy price spikes, which compound already difficult living conditions. In Yerevan, demonstrations are confined to a small section of the city. Public transportation is working, stores are open, and life in the rest of the city is normal.
In Georgia, cleanup effort after this month's devastating flood continues. NCSEJ spoke with a young Jewish community activist in Tbilisi, who reported that Jewish youth volunteers are helping to clean and restore the city, as well as to deliver food and water to other activists.
In Kyiv, the Babi Yar Jewish memorial was desecrated again with swastikas this week. NCSEJ urged Ukrainian authorities to investigate and provide adequate protection for this and other Jewish sites to prevent anti-Semitic vandalism in the future.
NCSEJ also condemned appalling anti-Semitic statements by a pro-Russian separatist leader in Eastern Ukraine, who blamed Ukrainian Jews for orchestrating the "Euromaidan revolution." The update includes our statement, as well as an article detailing separatist leaders' numerous anti-Semitic remarks.
Former Russian Prime Minister, longtime diplomat and Middle East expert Yevgeny Primakov died today at the age of 85. There have been numerous speculations about his Jewish background, although he never confirmed or denied his Jewish roots. He was a controversial figure for both the Russian and the American Jewish communities, but in his later years NCSEJ developed a close working relationship with him.
The update includes excerpts from the new U.S. State Department human rights report, which highlights human rights setbacks in several countries in the Eurasia region.
I also want to highlight a good human interest story in the Jewish Chronicle about Jewish communities in Siberia.
Mark B. Levin