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December 21, 2014 / 29 Kislev, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘Ukraine’

Shot Ukrainian Mayor Airlifted to Israel for Treatment

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

The Jewish mayor of Ukraine’s second-largest city was airlifted to Israel early Tuesday morning for treatment for a gunshot wound shot in a suspected assassination attempt.

Kharkov mayor Gennady Kernes was shot in the neck while on his routine morning jog and initially was reported to be struggling for his life.

Kernes underwent surgery at Haifa’s Elisha Hospital after being flown there, and the hospital said in a statement that the operation was successful and no further surgery will be required.

“Israeli doctors arrived last night, praised our doctors’ work and recommended he be transferred for treatment in Israel. The doctors deemed his condition to be safe for travel and at 3:20 A.M. his plane took off from Kharkov,” city council member Yuri Sidorenko told Interfax Ukraine.

According to the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, the 2009 election campaign in which Kernes became mayor was mired with anti-Semitic hate speech targeting him and other Jewish candidates.

Ukraine has seen deadly clashes between political opponents since the eruption in November of a revolution that started with protests over then-President Viktor Yanukovych’s perceived pro-Russian policies. Yanukovych was ousted from power in February and replaced with an interim government that has scheduled elections for next month.

Kernes reportedly has played a major role in the confrontations between pro-Ukrainian and pro-Russian forces in the city.

He had been a supporter of Yanukovych, and then changed his stance, saying he does not support the pro-Russia insurgents or the annexation of Ukrainian territory.

Several anti-Semitic attacks, including two stabbings and two attempts to torch synagogues, have occurred since November in Ukraine.

Jewish Ukrainian Mayor Shot, Worry Rises as Separatists Seize More Towns

Monday, April 28th, 2014

The Jewish mayor of the eastern Ukrainian town of Kharkov was shot in the back by unidentified masked gunmen on Monday and is now fighting for his life, even as Israel’s president warned Jews around the world on Holocaust Remembrance Day to watch for signs of rising anti-Semitism.

Pro-Russian separatists captured Kharkov, eastern Ukraine’s second-largest town, on Monday, according to a report by RIA Novosti. The news outlet quoted a friend of Mayor Gennady Kernes who said, “They shot him in the back from the forest…  His lung is pierced and his liver pierced all the way through.”

Aides said the mayor had recently received numerous threats,  RT News reported. The attack, which came less than 24 hours after a clash between anti-government protesters and nationalists in the city left 14 people injured, left Kernes critically wounded.

Speaking at the opening ceremonies Monday for Holocaust Remembrance Day, President Peres spoke of the death of his family in the little town of Vishnyeva, in Poland. Two thousand Jews all died there after being locked into the wooden synagogue building by the Nazis, and then burned alive.

“Half of the Jews of Vishnyeva made aliyah to Israel, the other half, which did not, were burned alive,” the president said. “Our body was slashed in two – but our spirit remains undivided, pulsating here in Israel as a locked memory, an independent Jewish renaissance never again to be destroyed.”

The clear warning issued by the president is one the Jews in Ukraine now must heed – if they even had a chance to hear it as the rising war begins to rage around them.

So far the Jews of Kharkov seem to be safe – but the city has a bloody past in terms of protecting its Jews. More than 15,000 Jewish residents of Kharkov were murdered between December 1941 and January 1942, herded by Germans into a ghetto area set up for them about five miles from the city and periodically hauled out and shot to death. Some were just buried alive. A mass grave was discovered not far from the site, in the Drobitzki Valley.

Many of the supporters of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko are also anti-Semitic, sources told the Arutz Sheva website in an interview in February. As a result, some of the community is considering aliyah.

In the eastern Ukraine on Monday, armed gunmen also seized town of Kostyantynivka, entering the administration building and the police headquarters. International media reported that masked gunmen were wearing camouflage outfits and were armed with assault weapons.

Both towns are located in the Donetsk region, along with Sloviansk, a third city which also has now been declared an independent entity by pro-Russian secessionists.

Protesters seized a local state TV station in the city of Donetsk. The protesters demanded the launch of a ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ TV channel, and that Russian TV channels be broadcast. The Ukrainian flag was lowered from the building and the flag of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic was raised in its place – but later, that too was removed. Nevertheless, a source told Interfax-Ukraine that secessionist security personnel remained at the TV station to enforce the demands.

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.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/eyewitness-report-from-ukraine-you-can-feel-the-tension-in-the-air/2014/04/23/

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