|NCSJ WEEKLY UPDATE
May 23, 2014
TO: NCSJ Leadership and Interested Parties
FROM: Stephen M. Greenberg, Chairman;
Alexander Smukler, NCSJ President;
Mark B. Levin, NCSJ Executive Director
Tensions persist in Eastern Ukraine, raising concerns whether the upcoming Sunday, May 25th presidential election will be able to proceed in these regions. Yesterday, thirteen Ukrainian troops were killed and 33 wounded in an attack by pro-Russian insurgents in the village of Blahodatne, in the Donetsk region.
This week's newsletter includes the first update from our new representative in Kyiv Ilya Bezruchko, reporting from Ukraine about the country's preparations to the Sunday elections and the general situation on the ground.
We hope you will join us for our upcoming Board of Governors meeting on Tuesday, June 10. Speakers will include Chief Rabbi of Ukraine Yaakov Bleich, Dr. Archil Gegeshidze, Ambassador of Georgia to the United States, and a senior official from the U.S. State Department. For more information and to register, please visit www.ncsj.org/Board.pdf.
Mark B. Levin
By Ilya Bezruchko
NCSJ, May 23, 2014
Millions of Ukrainians are preparing to go to the polls on Sunday, in hope that successful elections will resolve the ongoing crisis in the country. For months, Ukraine has been entangled in this crisis, which has implications not only for the future of the country but for the European continent as a whole.
The crisis also affected the Ukrainian Jewish community. Although it hasn't been singled out, it has been a target of several provocations, and is negatively impacted by the general decline in security and the deteriorating economic situation.
The situation on the ground is complex. In Kramatorsk, a city in the Donetsk region still controlled by pro-Russian insurgents, no preparations for the elections are being made. The lack of preparations for the presidential elections contrasts strikingly with the May 11th pro-Russian referendum in the city, when every voting location was open.
A similar situation is taking place in Slavyansk, another city of unrest in the Donetsk region. The Jewish community leadership of Slavyansk has said that they are concentrating on helping local Jews in need and keeping Hesed centers open. The Jewish community remains apolitical, they said.
We have also received reports that general security situation in the Lugansk region is deteriorating.
The situation is different outside of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, in Odessa, Kharkiv, and Dnipropetrovs'k.
Despite the fact that Kharkiv is in close proximity to the Donbas region, the situation there is stable and calm. Close to 90% of pro-Russian activists who took part in anti-government rallies in the city are not locals, but came from the Belogorod region of Russia or from the Donetsk area. Local Jews feel safe and are hoping for positive changes in the aftermath of the election. The only hotspot in the region is the town Izum, where anti-terrorist operation staff are stationed.
In Dnipropetrovs'k, local Jewish youth are civically active, supporting Ukrainian territorial integrity and successful elections. The Jewish community representatives said that the majority of locals are likely to vote on Sunday, even if they have to commute from outside of the city.
Representatives of Lviv Jewish community in Western Ukraine said they are expecting a high turnout for the elections. They reported no incidents of anti-Semitism in the city. The situation is similar in Uzhgorod, another city in Western Ukraine.
Overall, the majority of Ukrainians are hoping the upcoming elections will bring stability and peace. They are tired of the prolonged crisis, which began last November with the Maidan protest, and continued with the Russian annexation of Crimea and unrest in the east of Ukraine. Hopes for a bright future of Ukraine depend on the success of these elections.
for NCSJ's Weekly News Update.
NCSJ: Advocates on Behalf of Jews in Russia,
Ukraine, the Baltic States & Eurasia, founded
represents the organized American Jewish
in monitoring and advocating on behalf of the
estimated 1.5 million Jews living in the 15
states of the former Soviet Union.
NCSJ is a beneficiary of The
Federations of North America and the National
through its network of