US secretary of state John Kerry has said Jews living in a city in eastern Ukraine have been ordered to register with the authorities, an action he described as “intolerable”.
He suggested that the stand-off between pro-Russian forces in Ukraine risked taking a sinister turn should the demand continue.
“Just in the last couple of days, notices were sent to Jews in one city indicating that they had to identify themselves as Jews … or suffer the consequences,” he said.
“In the year 2014, after all of the miles travelled and all of the journey of history, this is not just intolerable, it’s grotesque.
“It is beyond unacceptable. And any of the people who engage in these kinds of activities – from whatever party or whatever ideology or whatever place they crawl out of – there is no place for that.”
Mr Kerry was speaking yesterday as he attended talks in Geneva involving the US, Russia, Ukraine and EU held to discuss the Ukraine crisis.
He said all parties at the talks unanimously condemned anti-semitism.
Flyers were allegedly distributed to Jewish Ukrainians leaving a synagogue on Monday in the city of Donestk in eastern Ukraine telling the Jewish community to “register” with the separatist government.
Additionally, they would be forced to pay a registration fee of £30 and list all pieces of property, including real estate and vehicles. “Evasion of registration will result in citizenship revoke and you will be forced outside the country with a confiscation of property,” a translation of the flyer reads.
However Denis Pushilin, head of the self-appointed new pro-Russian leadership, denied any involvement.
Alex Tenzer, from Kiev and one of the directors of the National Association of Immigrants from the Former USSR in Israel, spoke to the Israeli news site Ynet about the flyer’s origin.
“The material is very anti-semitic and reminds me of the kind of material distributed by the Nazis in World War Two,” he said.