December 13, 2013
Angered by Yanukovich’s decision to spurn an EU trade deal and move Ukraine further into Russia’s orbit, Ukrainians have taken to the streets, occupying Maidan (“Independence”) Square and nearby state buildings in the capital, Kiev. This is the second time in a decade that Ukrainians have come out in force against the president.
In the 2004 Orange Revolution, protesters alleged that Yanukovich had rigged a runoff vote between himself and opponent Viktor Yushchenko.
Several Jewish leaders have expressed their concerns over the prominent role that the ultranationalist Svoboda party has played in the protests. Svoboda’s leader, Oleg Tyagnibok, unlike many in the European far Right, is a supporter of greater European integration, due to his opposition to what he considers undue Russian influence in the former Soviet republic. He has stated that he believes that his country “is being controlled by a Russian- Jewish mafia.” Svoboda has 36 seats out of 450, or roughly eight percent of the total representation, in parliament.
Rabbi Moshe Azman, a local Chabad emissary and one of several men claiming the title of chief rabbi, told news website Arutz Sheva that he had canceled several public events for the commemoration of Hanukka due to fears of violence by protesters, specifically those affiliated with Svoboda.
The Ukrainian Jewish Committee warned local communities that they should remain neutral in the political conflict, director Eduard Dolinsky told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.