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July 28, 2014 / 1 Av, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Ukraine’

Jewish Mayor of City in Ukraine Shot in the Back

Monday, April 28th, 2014

The mayor of Ukraine’s second largest city was shot in the back Monday and was rushed to a hospital where he is “fighting for his life,” a Kharkov City Council stated on its website. Different sources reported that the mayor was swimming, cycling or jogging when he was shot from a nearby forest.

Kharkov has been relatively unaffected by the turmoil in the country since the Russian takeover of Crimea. The mayor, Gennady Kernes, was a former supported of ousted Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych.

Ukraine Frees US-Israeli Journalist Ostrovsky (Video)

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

Simon Ostrovsky, a journalist for the Brooklyn-based Vice News, was released in eastern Ukraine on Thursday after having been held hostage since Tuesday, according to a tweet from a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation journalist.

Vice News is delighted to confirm that our colleague and friend Simon Ostrovsky has been safely released and is in good health,” the news outlet stated. “We would like to thank everyone for their support during this difficult time.”

Ostrovksy is “free and safe,” reported the CBC’s Jean-Francois Belanger.

Another CBC journalist said that Ostrovsky was beaten and blindfolded during his captivity.

On Wednesday, Vyacheslav Ponomarev , the self-appointed mayor of Slovyansk  where Ostrovsky had been held, said, “We need prisoners. They take ours, drive them to Kiev, torture them. Well, we’ve done the same.”

Stella Khoraeva, a  spokeswoman for the pro-Russian invaders of Ukraine, explained that Ostrovsky was guilty of an “incorrect way” of reporting. She told the Daily Beast, “We knew where he was going and the men manning the checkpoint were told to look out for him.”

Below is a video of Ostrovsky’s report for Vice News in which he interviewed Ponomarev, who later kidnapped him.

Russia Accuses West of Starting Ukraine Crisis

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov turned the tables on Thursday and accused the United States and the European Union of starting the crisis in Ukraine.

Last week a deal was signed in Geneva between Russia, Ukraine, the U.S. and the EU to resolve the crisis – one of the worst since the end of the Cold War. It has yet to be carried out.

But Lavrov told the Interfax news agency, “In Ukraine, the United States and the European Union tried to stage – let’s call things what they are – another ‘color revolution,’ an operation to unconstitutionally change regime.”

The ‘color revolution’ remark refers to the 2004-2005 Ukrainian ‘Orange Revolution’ that occurred when the country’s presidential run-off election was seized by pro-Kremlin leaders.

Months-long anti-government protests in Ukraine resulted in the ouster of the country’s President Viktor Yanukovich, who fled to Russia several weeks ago. The eastern part of the country has been seized by separatists, and Crimea altogether seceded from Ukraine and was formally annexed by Russia. Journalists have been kidnapped, and an Israeli-American reporter is still being held hostage in the separatist city of Slaviansk.

2 Tortured Bodies Found Dumped in Sloviansk, Ukraine

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

Two dead men whose bodies were marked with signs of “brutal torture” were found dumped near the eastern Ukrainian city of Slaviansk, according to numerous media reports.

One has yet to be identified.

Israeli-American journalist Simon Ostrovsky was kidnapped on Monday by armed gunmen working for the self-declared separatist mayor of Slaviansk. He is being held hostage in the eastern Ukranian city, now under pro-Russian rule. Mr. Ostrovsky, who works for the HBO-owned Vice News media outlet, has not been seen or heard from since his capture.

The second was allegedly identified in a preliminary investigation as that of Volodymyr Rybak, a member of the ruling Ukrainian Batkivshchyna party. Mr. Rybak was kidnapped last Wednesday by terrorists in Horlivka. His body was found in the Seversky-Donets River. Mr. Rybak served as a local council member in the town of Horlivka, near Donetsk.

Although the identification has yet to confirmed, Ukrainian interim President Oleksander Turchinov said in a statement to media that at least one of the bodies appeared to be that of Mr. Rybak. Turchinov called for an anti-terrorist operation to be relaunched in Ukraine.

Despite efforts by fellow journalists to determine his status and condition, journalist Simon Ostrovsky has not been seen since.

The Israeli government did not respond to phone calls and an email from The Jewish Press asking for a comment on the situation.

U.S. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters at a briefing on Monday, that the U.S. believes “there’s a strong connection between Russia and the armed militants that we’ve seen in eastern Ukraine and Crimea and other places… what we see in the photos that have been, again, in international media, on Twitter, and publicly available, is that there are individuals who visibly appear to be tied to Russia. We’ve said that publicly a countless number of times.”

Psaki added that Secretary of State John Kerry had called on Russia to speak out against the seizing of journalists and other innocents as hostages.

Eyewitness Report from Ukraine: ‘You Can Feel the Tension in the Air’

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

DRUZHKOVA, UKRAINE – Tensions continue to mount in eastern Ukraine, as no obtainable solution is in sight. Reports of casualties continue to stream out of the provinces in dispute, and the residents of Ukraine don’t know what new reality they may encounter on a daily basis.

Most Ukrainians talk of a link to the West, but those in the east of the country feel a part of Russia. The Ukrainian Government has engaged in military action to maintain the entirety of its sovereign territory, a move which has brought to the escalation in violence and the rise in the death toll. As the two governments continue to wage battle, it seems the main question is how the Ukrainian residents of the east really view themselves; are they western Russians or eastern Ukrainians? Sergey Ovechinikov, a former resident of the eastern Donetsk Province talked to Tazpit News Agency about what he experienced in the past weeks and where he believes eastern Ukraine is headed.

Sergey lives in Cyprus and often visits his family who reside in the city of Druzhkovka, in northern Donetsk Province. “Everyone is expectant of some development; you can feel the tension in the air. I saw people erecting barricades in the city. I never thought I would see anything like this in my city. No one knows who is manning the barricades, some are locals, but they are surely organized by someone”

Sergey is apprehensive of the precarious security situation in the streets, describing a situation which is on the threshold of anarchy. “You get the sense the people really want to fight; some of the people manning the barricades are armed. There is currently no police force in the city. They withdrew, and there is a Russian flag flying over the police headquarters. All government buildings have Russian flags flying from them.”

Sergey points out that not all the residents of the area wish to become Russian citizens. Some have expressed objection to the flying of the Russian flags. “People have different opinions,” explains Sergey, “The streets seem to say that everyone wants to join Russia, but I don’t think everyone wants to make this move. Those who oppose unifying with Russia are afraid to voice their opinions, as they are the minority. Most of the population is Pro-Russian. At a situation close to war another view point is not relevant and no one wants to hear it. It seems like the region is on the brink of a civil war.”

Regardless of their political aspirations, all fear the pending economical collapse. “Everyone fears that their factories will shut down and they will lose their jobs.  The Ukraine Hryvnia has plummeted, and there is no fuel for heating in the area,” says Sergey.

Fear seems to be the primary sentiment expressed about the future in the region. “People fear that the new Ukrainian government will hunt down those are generating the pro-Russian actions. There are street battles between pro-Russian activities and pro-Ukrainian nationalists, although the majority here is hostile to anything Ukrainian – the flag, national anthem, state symbols and language. I think east Ukraine will never unify with the rest of the country,” concludes Sergey.

Ukraine’s future is shrouded in uncertainty, but it is clear the current course of change is unalterable. One is only left to hope the violence will not be the main actor in this change of scenes.

Israeli-American Journalist Held Hostage in Ukraine

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

An Israeli-American journalist has been kidnapped in Ukraine and is being held by separatists there, according to a report by the HBO-owned online news site Vice News.

Pro-Russian separatists were quoted Tuesday in the report, admitting they were holding reporter Simon Ostrovsky in the city of Slaviansk.

The news was announced by the self-declared mayor of the city, Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, who held a news conference and told reporters “his men” were holding an American journalist with Israeli citizenship.

Ponomaryov did not specifically name Ostrovsky. But other journalists working in the area told Reuters that a group with him had been grabbed by the mayor’s men on Monday, and later freed. Unlike the rest, however, Ostrovsky was not released.

BBC journalist Graham Phillips uploaded a YouTube video documenting his efforts to track down Ostrovsky.

In the video, Phillips is heard requesting information about ‘Simon, Simon journalist’ from the self-declared mayor. Ponomaryov gruffly responds in guttural Russian that Ostrovsky will not be released any time soon. The footage is shaky because the cameraman is being knocked around by the numerous armed military guards, who are brandishing AK-47s as they threaten the news team. It is clear that Ostrovsky is being held hostage, and that his life is likely in danger – at best.

In some ways, the entire nightmarish scene brings to mind the hostage crisis years ago in Uganda. All the other journalists were let go – but the American with Israeli citizenship was held.

The kidnapped journalist has produced stories on Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and the situation in Judea and Samaria.

For the past several weeks he has been covering the crisis in Ukraine. The last time he was heard from, he posted a tweet on the Twitter social networking site during the separatist mayor’s news conference on Monday. In that post, he commented that a woman working with the mayor’s group had “called us all liars” and asked for donations to pay for the funerals of ‘militants’ killed the previous day in a clash.

More Jewish Sites Vandalized in Ukraine

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

A Holocaust memorial and the grave of the brother of the late Lubavitcher rebbe were vandalized in Ukraine, amid a string of anti-Semitic attacks in the country.

The Holocaust Memorial in Sevastopol in the Crimean Peninsula was spray painted in red with a hammer and sickle and the letters USSR, and with what appeared to be other pro-Russian graffiti according to the Sevastopolskaya Gazeta.

The Sevastopol Jewish Welfare Center, Hesed Shahar, reported the vandalism to local police, according to Sevastopolskaya Gazeta.

The memorial was erected in Sevastopol in 2003 at the site where 4,200 Jews were murdered by the Nazis on July 12, 1942.

The monument has been vandalized by neo-Nazis in the past.

Also on Tuesday it was reported that, in Dnepropetrovsk, swastikas were sprayed on the tomb of Dov Ber Schneerson, brother of the late Lubavicher Rebbe, Rabbi Menahem Mendel Schneerson.

Chabad emissary Rabbi Moshe Weber, who works in Dnepropetrovsk, said that the graffiti looked recent, according to Chabad Online.

Since the revolution erupted in November, Ukraine, which has relatively low levels of anti-Semitic violence, has seen several serious attacks including a stabbing and the attempted torching of two synagogues, most recently last week in Nikolayev.

The Ukrainian government and Russian government officials, as well as their supporters in Ukraine, have exchanged allegations of anti-Semitism.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/more-jewish-sites-vandalized-in-ukraine/2014/04/22/

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