The Jewish community in Donetsk in eastern Ukraine was stunned earlier this week when flyers were distributed calling on all Jews age 16 and older to register with separatists, list real estate and vehicles they own and pay a special tax, or face deportation, loss of citizenship and confiscation of their property.
The International Business Times reported that the flyer ordered Jewish citizens to register at one of the government buildings that was taken over by separatists earlier this month and that a special registration fee of $50 due May 3 was being levied.
The Israeli news site Ynet wrote that the leaflet specified what documents Jewish citizens would need for the registration process.
“ID and passport are required to register your Jewish religion, religious documents of family members, as well as documents establishing the rights to all real estate property that belongs to you, including vehicles,” the document read according to Ynet’s translation from Russian.
International Business Times also provided translation of excerpts from the flyer, which said the fee was a result of Jewish leaders having “supported the nationalist junta of [Stepan] Bandera in Kiev” and who are hostile “to Orthodox Donetsk republic and its citizens.” Bandera was the Ukrainian national movement leader who in the 1940s initially allied himself with Nazi Germany to fight the Soviet Union.
The Novosti Donbassa news agency reported that the paper was handed out near the Donetsk synagogue by “three unidentified men wearing balaclavas and carrying the flag of the Russian Federation,” and alleged that the aim was to incite strife which would then be blamed on separatists, International Business Times reported.
According to the news service the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, pro-Russian separatists — who earlier this month occupied several government buildings in Donetsk and declared their own state separate from Ukraine — have denied that they were behind the circulation of the intimidating document. This, despite photos of the flyer posted online which displayed a stamp of the self-proclaimed People’s Republic of Donetsk and the name of its government chairman Denis Pushilin.
The news site tvrain.ru on Wednesday quoted Pushilin denying being behind the flyers and calling them a provocation, JTA reported.
Olga Reznikova, a Jewish woman in Donetsk told Ynet that “we do not know if the leaflet was spread by pro-Russian forces or someone else, but it did manage to create quite a fear. This reminds me of texts from darker times. Other members of the Jewish community I spoke with are not afraid, but it is unpleasant.”
“I do not intend to register, I am 32, I have lived in Donetsk my entire life and have never had to deal with anti-Semitism until I laid eyes on this piece of paper. Though I take it very seriously, I am uncertain of its authenticity,” she added.
Kiev native Alex Tenzer, who is now a director of the National Association of Immigrants from the former Soviet Union in Israel, told Ynet, “The Jewish-Ukrainian leadership supports Ukraine’s new government, but it’s hard to tell whether the leaflet is valid or simply a provocation.”
“The material is very anti-Semitic and reminds me of the kind of material distributed by the Nazis in WWII,” Tenzer said.
Emanuelle Shechter, who lives in Israel and was sent a copy of the leaflet from friends in Donetsk told Ynet, “They told me that masked men were waiting for Jewish people after the Passover eve prayer, handed them the flyer and told them to obey its instructions.”
TheBlaze is unable to independently verify the authenticity of the flyer.
News of the intimidating document came as Israel was bracing for a sharp rise in immigration of Jews from Ukraine who are concerned about anti-Semitism in the wake of the domestic strife.