Ukraine’s prime minister voiced outrage at reports that masked men in east Ukraine’s main city handed out leaflets demanding Jews register or be expelled, NBC News reported on Saturday.
Members of the Jewish community in the pro-Russian protest hub of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine said on Friday that they were left shaken by the distribution of tracts demanding the registration of Jews.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said he wanted to “make a clear statement and urge the Ukrainian military and security forces and Ukrainian Department of Homeland Security urgently to find these bastards and to bring them to justice,” he said in excerpts of an interview with NBC’s Meet the Press, which were to air in full yesterday.
The incident happened as about 20 Jews were leaving the synagogue last week. The three hooded men handing out the pamphlets were carrying a Russian flag and the symbol of the separatist Republic of Donetsk.
Reports of the anti-Semitic tracts sparked international concern, with US Secretary of State John Kerry branding the distribution of the pamphlets as “grotesque” and US President Barack Obama expressing “disgust.”
According to Yatsenyuk, Russian President Vladimir Putin “has a dream to restore the Soviet Union. And every day he goes further and further and doesn’t know where is the final destination.”
“I consider that the biggest disaster of this century would be the restoring of the Soviet Union under the auspices of [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin,” he said.
Washington, Kiev and many EU states see Putin as pulling the strings in Ukraine’s insurgency, sending in special forces that he repeatedly denies are there.
The Kremlin has snapped back by stressing it has part of its army on Ukraine’s doorstep — a declaration that appeared to be a warning shot that the situation could rapidly deteriorate if Washington were to impose further sanctions.
Washington has warned Moscow that Ukraine is in a “pivotal period” as pro-Russian rebels there refuse to comply with a Geneva accord reached on Thursday by Russia, the US, Ukraine and the EU to disarm and leave occupied public buildings.