The Jews of Donetsk
April 17, 2014 11:05 AM   Subscribe

On the first full day of Passover, Jewish people in the Eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk were handed leaflets ordering all Jewish residents over the age of 16 to pay the new pro-Russian revolutionary authorities $50 apiece for individual registration, otherwise “the guilty ones would be deprived of their citizenship and deported outside the republic; their property would be confiscated.”

The leaflets appeared to be signed by Russian separatist leader Denis Pushilin. Pushilin not only rejected the content of the flyers, but also denied that his organization was behind their printing.

John Kerry this afternoon stated that “In the year 2014, after all of the miles traveled and all of the journey of history, this is not just intolerable, it’s grotesque. It is beyond unacceptable,” Kerry said. “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.”

Inside Ukraine's 'Donetsk People's Republic'

Donetsk’s pro-Russians ‘defending our people from fascists and the West’

Jewish Press: The flyer – authentic or not – constitutes the 17th anti-Semitic incident to have taken place in Ukraine since the beginning of 2014. Most were violent attacks. Several were aimed at Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries and a few were life-threatening. Five took place in Kiev alone, according to statistics gleaned from the Coordination Forum for Countering Antisemitism (CFCA) website.
posted by roomthreeseventeen (94 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Seems to be the type of hoax that happens every time someone is trying to start a war: Iraqi soldiers throwing babies out of incubators, etc.
posted by johngoren at 11:09 AM on April 17, 2014 [16 favorites]

god, fucking warmongers need to knock it the fuck off
posted by rebent at 11:21 AM on April 17, 2014 [14 favorites]

While the antisemitism in both Russia and Ukraine can be so amazingly crude that it can seem like a parody, I also think it smells more like propaganda material in this case.
posted by tavella at 11:22 AM on April 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

The JN1 news network that appears on my local cable evidently originated in Ukraine.
posted by XMLicious at 11:27 AM on April 17, 2014

god, fucking warmongers need to knock it the fuck off

Time will tell on their power minds, making war just for fun. Treating people just like pawns in chess; wait 'til their judgement day comes
posted by johngoren at 11:29 AM on April 17, 2014 [5 favorites]

It's weird to see propaganda that's so obvious that it's too obvious, so it must be reverse-propaganda, except that's really obvious too, and it's Jewish turtles all the way down, isn't it.
posted by Etrigan at 11:30 AM on April 17, 2014 [13 favorites]

There was a recent editorial in the Moscow Times accusing Vladimir Putin of fostering antisemitism fears about the Ukraine, as a pretext for invasion. True or not, Ynet notes that the Donetsk region is filled with heavy industry. It would be a likely target of interest in the event of a Russian takeover.

The flyer exists. All else is speculation. We don't know who distributed it or why. For all we know, this could be some sort of sick, vile prank. It's not as if the country hasn't seen a ton of antisemitic acts in recent days, months, decades, etc.
posted by zarq at 11:39 AM on April 17, 2014 [3 favorites]

Maybe it's the CIA just fucking around for the hell of it.

Apparently we came this close to bombing Syria over poison gas attacks done by Turkish intelligence agents. That's what Sy Hersh is reporting anyway.
posted by bukvich at 11:39 AM on April 17, 2014 [5 favorites],7340,L-4510688,00.html

In a response to a request by a Ukrainian Jewish website, Pushilin, the interim government's regional chairman, confirmed that the flyers were distributed by his organization, but denied any connection to the leaflet's content.

He walked back that denial later. But it sound to me like what we have here is a miltia with a non-functioning chain of command. One that credibly claims to control a province of 4 million people.
posted by ocschwar at 11:55 AM on April 17, 2014 [5 favorites]

Remember also that Russian occupation has been crudely justified by many in the leftist US press who should know better through claims that the Euromaidan protesters were "violent" and "fascists." (While a far-right party was certainly present, it was a public demonstration- the same sort of people show up at Occupy protests. And if the existence of far-right parties invalidates a democracy I have bad news for France and pretty much every other country in Europe.)

Bottom line: It's a complicated situation that's being wildly misrepresented and misunderstood from pretty much every side and for widely-varied reasons.
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:56 AM on April 17, 2014 [4 favorites]

There was also a widely-circulated article that claimed with a straight face that Russia was about to resume deportations of Crimean Tatars to Siberia because someone claimed to have seen an "X" carved on a fence.
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:57 AM on April 17, 2014

That is the hobo sign for "Communism was just a red herring."
posted by maryr at 11:59 AM on April 17, 2014 [8 favorites]

A (The?) Donetsk Jewish Community has investigated and stated that it seems to be a cruel hoax.

Translated google page here

"In the evening, the eve of the second Seder near the synagogue appeared three men in camouflage and "Balaclava" and began handing out flyers and stick anti-Semitic content. When police arrived on call, who was distributing leaflets, was gone. Provocative leaflets prescribed "all citizens of Jewish nationality to appear for registration" and contained threats against those who evade registration.

Leaflets were signed "people's governor" Donetsk's Republic Denis Pushilin.

However, it soon appeared that he Denis Pushilin involvement categorically rejects. Moreover, he assured the members of the Jewish community of Donetsk, which was not involved in the provocation. The same thing he said on the air and the SEC "Donbass", noting that he never called himself a people's governor that the seal is clearly a fake and that the Jews they had no contradiction.

Whatever the incident was unpleasant words Pushilin of innocence, "the People's Republic of Donetsk" anti-Semitic leaflets in the Jewish community of Donetsk were positively received. According to the Chief Rabbi Pinchas Vyshedski Donbass, "residents of Donetsk - tolerant people, we live with them side by side almost without conflict. What happened, of course, smells like a provocation. Who is behind this - an open question. But since this is only a provocation to it and should be treated accordingly. Put point and close the topic. ""
posted by tittergrrl at 12:02 PM on April 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

ocschwar: "He walked back that denial later."

I didn't see that. Cite, please?
posted by zarq at 12:04 PM on April 17, 2014

Aren't FPPs that are determined to be a hoax usually deleted?

I wasn't implying it was real or a hoax. But it certainly is contributing to the escalating situation there.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:05 PM on April 17, 2014

The FPP itself says that the flyers may not be what they appear to be. Discussion of who might be doing this and for what reasons is still valid.
posted by Etrigan at 12:05 PM on April 17, 2014 [8 favorites]

Aren't FPPs that are determined to be a hoax usually deleted?

In addition, just because something's a hoax doesn't mean it's not significant. Alright, so maybe nobody wants to register the Jews, but the fact that this is happening is worrisome and significant, and indicative of the climate in the region.

I mean, if somebody handed a note to African Americans in the South threatening to lynch them if they did something, under order of the the Republican party, you'd be that would be news, even if it turned out that Republican party did not issue the orders and had no intention of lynching anyone.
posted by damayanti at 12:08 PM on April 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Christ, are people really spoiling for WW3 that badly? If this Ukraine situation blows up, pulling the US into it, so does the middle east situation pulling a whole lot of other nations into it. I don't have the solution, but I'll be the first to admit with family in the military - this is getting extremely concerning.
posted by lpcxa0 at 12:20 PM on April 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

ocschwar's link is terrifying.

Donetsk leaflet: Jews must register or face deportation
Emanuelle Shechter, from Israel, received a copy of the leaflet via Whatsapp from his friends in Donetsk. "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."
"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."

Jenia from Israel, who also received the letter from a Jewish acquaintance, said "the Jews in Donetsk are uncertain of anything; it is unclear who is responsible for the leaflet and who controls the city at the moment.

"We don't feel safe like we used to because of the political instability in the area; there isn't a legitimate president or sovereign. Currently Donetsk is ruled by a junta."
posted by Golden Eternity at 12:24 PM on April 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

This is the sort of thing one can expect in the run-up to a war. I hope the Jews of Donetsk have the sense to keep their heads down when the shooting starts.

On the plus side, if they make it to May 15, a war will be much less likely. On the minus side, the invasion well likely start within three weeks.
posted by happyroach at 12:24 PM on April 17, 2014

Later Pushilin publically denied that he had ever signed such a letter, and indeed it could have been the work of provocateurs hoping to discredit the pro-Russian movement. But Pushilin’s statement was not enough to comfort the alarmed Jewish community, which has other reasons to suspect it could have been issued by at least some members of the pro-Russian faction.
I mean that really does say everything, doesn't it? The attack could be a "genuinely" perpetrated by one side, or a slanderous false flag by the other. I certainly don't envy the Jews anywhere near a region where one needs to figure out which anti-Semites to side with. I mean how much worse is the side that wants to bring back the fiscus Iudaicus from the side that's totally fine with using targeted fear-mongering as a political tactic.
posted by griphus at 12:25 PM on April 17, 2014 [5 favorites]

I look forward to the upcoming vote and recognition for independence in Chechnya....

oh wait.
posted by edgeways at 12:25 PM on April 17, 2014 [5 favorites]

This whole thing is just leaving a sick feeling in my stomach. Whether or not it's credibly from the government or mayor, it's still a form of antisemitism meant to intimidate and frighten Jews. That's basically never something that has gone well in any country in the world, and Russia has a rather spectacularly bad track record in that regard. I've woken up with swastikas on my door. I'm not big on it, and I really really feel for people in a city/region where this is even potentially stemming from the government.
posted by stoneweaver at 12:30 PM on April 17, 2014 [13 favorites]

ocschwar: "He walked back that denial later."

I didn't see that. Cite, please?

Sorry, I should rephrase correctly first. In subsequent stories, he denied any connection from his men to the leaflet, not just the content of the leaflet. That you can find in most of the links. I'll find a specific one in a little but.
posted by ocschwar at 12:36 PM on April 17, 2014

On the plus side, if they make it to May 15

what happens then?
posted by pyramid termite at 12:41 PM on April 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Putin is now admitting that there was indeed Russian troops in Crimea prior to the vote.
posted by edgeways at 12:51 PM on April 17, 2014 [3 favorites]

I hope the Jews of Donetsk have the sense to keep their heads down when the shooting starts.

When the shooting starts, they are likely to be the first targets. I hope Kerry is ready to throw America's doors open to Jewish evacuees, because whoever was behind this, hoax or not, it demonstrates that, at this moment, Jews are targets.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:54 PM on April 17, 2014 [4 favorites]

Putting Jews in the spotlight in this area of the world makes me pretty darn anxious.
posted by oceanjesse at 12:54 PM on April 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

My family is from a town near Kiev where everyone was murdered on a hill by anti-Semites so I understand the fear. But this has disinformation written all over it. These types of pre-war stories spread, stick in people's memories, and then are forgotten by the time the war is on and someone has disproven them.

For example, before the 2003 war with Iraq there were stories in the press about the experiences of a Christian preacher named Pastor Joseph who was ministering to the Iraqis. Joseph would show up on Fox News talking about how his Iraqi friends were desperate for the bombs to start falling to liberate them. Then later he was shown not to be a real preacher at all but rather a weird rando traveler with a page identifying himself as a "modern-day Indiana Jones."
posted by johngoren at 1:00 PM on April 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

The thing is, johngoren, even if it's totally false and was invented by the other side to discredit the Russian separatist folks, it focuses everyone's attention on Jews as a category and raises questions about where Jewish people's loyalties lie. And those questions are always dangerous for Jews in that part of the world. Whether it's real or fake, it's dangerous.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 1:06 PM on April 17, 2014 [13 favorites]

Gawd, this whole Ukraine thing is terrifying.

And I just got a Lyft from an Egyptian dude who was pretty pissed about Tahrir being ignored because of the new flare ups.
posted by klangklangston at 1:07 PM on April 17, 2014

This may well be a hoax, but I think it is odd to discuss it in terms of a hoax being made in order to start a war. Russian soldiers have already invaded Ukraine. If a war start, that's the reason. A hoax like this seems more about making one side or another look bad and generally creating confusion and fear.
posted by Area Man at 1:15 PM on April 17, 2014 [3 favorites]

New Republic is saying it's a hoax.

To be clear, Ioffe's article does not conclude this is disinformation being spread by Kyev, it suggests it may have been distributed by "'anti-maidan 'alternative' variety criminals," which sounds to me like a Russian version of the klan.
On the other hand, says Vladimir Fedorin, an independent Russian journalist working in Ukraine, we shouldn't totally dismiss these fliers. "I think the fliers are fake, but the anti-Maidan crowd is a collection of the hardcore 'alternative' variety and criminals, so it's possible some of them are capable of this." To wit, there were also reports of teenagers distributing these fliers.
posted by Golden Eternity at 1:20 PM on April 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Calling it a hoax is all very well and good in that Jews are not being officially registered by the government. If you look at it from the perspective of the community that it affects; however, it is a direct threat and not a "hoax" at all.
posted by Sophie1 at 1:21 PM on April 17, 2014 [31 favorites]

We have heard today both the Secretary of State and the Ambassador of Ukraine confirming that this a real deal, so why do we trust a writer from the Atlantic that it is a hoax? Maybe it is, maybe its not; but given our diplomatic comments, it is something we need to take seriously until proven otherwise. I think the better question is at what level this is being done at. If it is just foot soldiers doing this, it's less of an issue. If higher ups were aware and permitted, it's gets more worrisome. It seems our diplomats are concerned about it, and that worries me.

Ultimately, it is a bad situation over there that concerns me. I hope it doesn't get out of hand further. It doesn't need vile nastiness like this leaflet adding fuel to the fire, whoever is sending it out.
posted by dios at 1:24 PM on April 17, 2014

Putin is now admitting that there was indeed Russian troops in Crimea prior to the vote.

Next on the Putin confirmation agenda: water, wet or not?
posted by yoink at 1:26 PM on April 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Of course not!
Absolutely not!
That water could just be simply pretending to be wet!
There is no way you can prove that water over there is ours and even if it was it wouldn't be wet.
We wouldn't dream of allowing our water to be wet, how dare you insinuate such a thing you tool of the Western powers?!!!

Now! Look at me without my shirt on, killing things!
posted by edgeways at 1:30 PM on April 17, 2014 [6 favorites]

New Republic is saying it's a hoax.

That's perhaps a rather misleading way to sum up what that piece is saying. It's not a "hoax" in the sense that the whole thing is invented; the pamphlets were, in fact, distributed. As to who distributed them and for what purpose, the New Republic piece simply says we don't yet know, but that it's pretty clearly not an official government action. So while the leaflets themselves were a "hoax" the story about Jews waking up to find these leaflets plastered about the place is not.
posted by yoink at 1:31 PM on April 17, 2014 [4 favorites]

These types of pre-war stories spread, stick in people's memories, and then are forgotten by the time the war is on and someone has disproven them.

The Protocols could be disproven at the moment they made their debut; today, the Neo-Nazis still print them out and sell copies at their bake sales.

It's probably going to be a good long while before the Jews in Donetsk forget about that time someone wanted the city to know that the resident Jews and their property ought to be on a government list. Again.
posted by griphus at 1:34 PM on April 17, 2014 [6 favorites]

Note that Russia invited members of European far-right parties to "oversee" the referendum in Crimea. Putin is happy to be friends with anti-Semites (even outright Nazis) when it suits him.
posted by Thing at 1:36 PM on April 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Considering it's not entirely clear how functional government and law enforcement in Donetsk are, I would still be pretty concerned even if these just turned out to be random local yahoos. Because random local yahoos seem to be pretty influential right now.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 1:37 PM on April 17, 2014 [3 favorites]

Point from the Daily Beast article, highlighted by @Interpreter_Mag:
According to Rabbi Vyshedski, the press secretary of the self-proclaimed republic, Aleksander Kriakov, is “the most famous anti-Semite in the region.”
posted by Anything at 1:41 PM on April 17, 2014

At first 2 months ago, I was concerned the Ukraine had given up all their nukes to Russia because it took a MAD card off the table in case of a Russian invasion, but looking at the disorder & chaos in Ukraine at this point, I'm increasingly glad they did. There really seems to be a central power vacuum of the worst sort. Recent multi-national diplomatic developments give me hope that this might not yet become a Russia V. Ukraine shooting war, but the internal struggles could get pretty bad regardless.
posted by Devils Rancher at 1:49 PM on April 17, 2014

It doesn't look like there's any clear distinction between foot soldiers and "higher ups" in Pushilin's movement. It's a bunch of militia types and assorted kooks who see this as their big chance to make a mark on the world. Some of them could very well be the antisemites that distributed the flyers, but it's unclear how much influence they have, or whether anybody involved with the "Donetsk People's Republic'" matters at all in the big picture.

The various insurgent groups are a serious problem, though. The Irish Times story (6th link) strongly implies that covert Russian forces are going from town to town in Donetsk Oblast and forceably evicting local governments, then inviting the pro-Russian militias to move in. Meanwhile, the local police (who were appointed by Yanukovych and have no love for the current regime in Kiev) and the army (who are so demoralized it seems they'll surrender their armored vehicles in exchange for a hot meal) can't or won't stop them.
posted by Kevin Street at 1:53 PM on April 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

I should clarify, when I said "less of an issue" that was poor word choice that might inadvertently suggest this not problematic. I think this is very much a concerning issue for the West and, more importantly, the Jewish people in Donestk. What I meant to say is that it is more easily stopped or avoided if this is some isolated, low-power fringe group as opposed to being official policy of a Russian-backed insurgent government. This whole situation is not good and fills me with empathy for the plight of the people who are suffering through this chaos.
posted by dios at 2:02 PM on April 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

I guess I don't see a way out of this for Ukraine without either ceding an arbitrarily large amount of territory to Russia, or being drawn into a war they can't win. The sanctions are good but they work on an entirely other time scale than actual boots on the ground. It's not enough for Russia to rue this action a decade hence.
posted by newdaddy at 2:09 PM on April 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

newdaddy: It's not enough for Russia to rue this action a decade hence.

There are signs that it's already taking a significant toll. Not saying we're out of the woods, but Putin really needs to tread lightly with the fortunes many oligarchs hanging in the balance.
posted by tonycpsu at 2:11 PM on April 17, 2014

I assume Putin is on board with Israel annexing east Ukraine to protect its Jewish inhabitants.
posted by Behemoth at 2:15 PM on April 17, 2014 [8 favorites]

I'm skeptical about sanctions mattering much. Putin has slapped down oligarchs before and his regime survived the 2008-2009 recession. Also, the Germans don't seem willing to do much of anything. If the Ukrainian military can't or won't fight, I suspect Russia will end up with all or part of Ukraine.
posted by Area Man at 2:30 PM on April 17, 2014

That is, all or part of what remains of Ukraine.
posted by Area Man at 2:33 PM on April 17, 2014

This whole thing is fucking breaking my heart.
posted by grubi at 2:55 PM on April 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

The report described in tonycpsu's link like this:
The Swedish Defence Research Agency said Russia risks a protracted battle with Ukrainian resistors and “military-strategic overstretch” that will weaken its position in Central Asia and the Chinese border if it tries to occupy Eastern Ukraine. available as a PDF in English here.
posted by XMLicious at 2:56 PM on April 17, 2014 [3 favorites]

I'm of multiple minds on this. I'm no fan of Putin's governance and in particular his quizzical Mona Lisa smile politics -- see also Snowden -- but on the other hand it's probably "better" in the political sense if Ukraine lets the eastern provinces go and forges ahead to create a Ukrainian identity, within the European polity, that isn't split down the middle.

Surely, though, Putin doesn't even need to start a shooting war, as he's already exposed the weakness and uncertainty of the Kiev leadership. That's going to hurt for a long time. But strategically, he's also "lost Ukraine for a generation" as somebody noted, at least Western Ukraine, the part that doesn't identify with Russia or the Eurasian/Slavic counter-pole that Putin wants to build up.

Area Man, while I'm sure Russia could handily defeat the Ukrainian military, I'm in agreement with you that they won't be able to put up an effective conventional fight. The Euromaidan movement, though, would provide a formidable guerrilla/dissident challenge, and the noises Putin is making seem to suggest he doesn't want any of it -- he wants them out of his lobby. But he'll do everything he can to break their sense of national momentum and pride in the quasi-revolution, and clearly has set up tripwires and traps for Ukraine to fall into that will only result in humiliation.

As I've said before this feels strange, a return to an older form of geopolitics, as the entire foundational idea of the EU is happiness together under a grand umbrella, with no need for these territorial conflicts, and the Russian approach has -- certainly for Russians and the Russian penumbra -- undercut the stability of that idea in a big way. It's the complete opposite of the civlilzed and incremental devolution going on in the UK and Spain and to a lesser extent places like Italy and Belgium. It's going to be interesting whether Russia has any success with its announced -- but hardly hewn in stone -- change of political compass-points to the East and in particular China, given the two powers' past history of diffident, mostly lukewarm cooperation. China's approach to these things has been quite different, and they haven't sought to be welcomed into the US/Pacific Allies relationship the way Russia has felt it should have been. Can Moscow woo Beijing to the extent it will now need to? That's going to be a big open question for the next few years.
posted by dhartung at 2:57 PM on April 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

On the plus side, if they make it to May 15

what happens then?

Arrgh, stupid typo- I meant May 25th, the date oh the Ukrainian elections. While not impossible, it will be harder to argue the whole thing was nothing but a coup after that. I do expect to hear Putin at some point say they won't abide by the results of the election.
posted by happyroach at 3:16 PM on April 17, 2014

It's not only democratic legitimacy but also the presence of the far right which will change after 25 May. Although Svoboda won't disappear they will be shown to have far less than 10% of the vote, likely even under 5%. Arguments that Russia is waging an anti-fascist action will be shown hollow.
posted by Thing at 3:41 PM on April 17, 2014

U.S. and Russia Agree on Pact to Defuse Ukraine Crisis (NYT link)
GENEVA — The United States, Russia, Ukraine and the European Union reached an agreement here on Thursday evening that calls for armed pro-Russian bands to give up the government buildings they have seized in eastern Ukraine and outlines other steps to de-escalate the crisis.
Judging by the early reaction on the street in eastern Ukraine, in the absence of a strong push by Moscow, such skepticism is well justified.

Vasili Domashev, who described himself as an aide to the commandant of a building under occupation in Donetsk, said that since no representative of the newly declared and wholly unrecognized People’s Republic of Donetsk had been invited to the Geneva talks, the republic would not be bound by the decisions made there.
On the other hand...
Under the agreement negotiated in Geneva, the Ukrainian government would grant amnesty to protesters who leave the government buildings they have occupied and agree to give up their arms, unless they are suspected of murder or other capital crimes.

International monitors from the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe, a 57-nation group that includes Russia, are to play a “leading role” in helping Ukrainians carry out the de-escalation measures.
So it looks like this might forestall further violence, and give Ukraine's military a chance to get their act together. If Russia is serious about deescalation, the militias might start to disappear back into the woodwork.
posted by Kevin Street at 4:04 PM on April 17, 2014

I assume Putin is on board with Israel annexing east Ukraine to protect its Jewish inhabitants. Actually it is Israel that is on board with Russia and it's annexation of territories. In diplomacy people feign surprise but we don't have to be diplomatic on mefi.
posted by vicx at 5:08 PM on April 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Sounds more like a page from the Svoboda playbook to me.
posted by Suggestive_Bobcat at 5:56 PM on April 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

The tensions between east, west and south Ukraine have created a very unstable and unpredictable situation. Leaving aside the question of how this instability came about, an important aspect of the Russian story hinges on the idea that fascist/nazist elements have played an important role at Maidan, which is supported by the fact that the confirmed right-extremist party Svoboda now plays a not-insignificant part in the interim government.

Given this narrative of juxtaposition between pro-Russians vs. fascists/nazis, it is uncharacteristic for the separatists/pro-Russians to blatantly further an anti-semitic agenda.

Unfortunately anti-semitism is widespread throughout Ukraine and it is the sad truth that there are also many separatists/pro-Russians which hold anti-semitic beliefs.

But the fact that Denis Pushilin has denied any connection to the flyers means that either he or his bosses did not think it wise to emphasize the real or reflexive anti-semitism that exists within the broader movement they represent. Maybe that's a positive outcome of Geneva.
posted by dmh at 6:16 PM on April 17, 2014

I think the most horrifying aspect of this to me (apart from echoes of 1930's Germany) is that it took place during Passover, probably the most universally celebrated holiday in all of Judaism after Yom Kippur and Chanukah.

This was targeted hate speech designed to intimidate.

I really, really hope a shooting/bombing war doesn't explode in the region. For the obvious reasons of course, but also because of this; a restaurant I used to work at, the owner's mother still had that tattoo on her wrist. Auschwitz or Dachau, I never felt I had the intimacy to ask. But there are people still alive who remember being put in train cars.

Never again. Never, ever, ever again.

I truly hope there is a mass exodus from Ukraine of Jews to wherever they can go (I can offer my bed to two or three Ukrainian Jews; I'll sleep on the sofa). If this situation spirals out of control... it's not even worth thinking about, it makes me want to vomit. The whole situation makes me want to vomit.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:50 PM on April 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Snowden asks Putin on TV about Russian surveillance.

Assange seems supportive of Putin as well:

Julian Assange's Virtual Address at South By Southwest
But Assange's spirited defense of liberty and openness stumbled badly when he was asked about recent events in the Ukraine, including the Russian military's apparent invasion of Crimea. Assange seemed to accept and even endorse the incursion. "Geopolitically, it is utterly intolerable for Sevastopol to fall into the hands of NATO," he declared. Such an occurrence would be "an existential threat to Russia."

"Russia will reclaim Crimea," Assange stated flatly. ...
posted by Golden Eternity at 7:56 PM on April 17, 2014

Just to quote that entire last bit,
"Russia will reclaim Crimea," Assange stated flatly. "And the United States will prop up the rest of Ukraine."
So he might have simply been correctly discerning what has happened so far.
posted by XMLicious at 8:30 PM on April 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

The US is "propping up" Ukraine?
posted by Golden Eternity at 8:37 PM on April 17, 2014

Whoever turns out to have been behind these flyers, the Donetsk Jews are right to be worried in a region where occupation and annexation are being justified on ethnic grounds, in flat negation of nationality. This has historically not been a good thing for minorities in that part of the world.
posted by homerica at 8:39 PM on April 17, 2014

This thread is turning out to be a pretty good micro-example of why this incident makes a lot of Jews nervous. Being the pawn that stands in for a whole lot of doesn't turn out well. What usually happens is bad thing happens, a lot of people are initially shocked and call it a bad thing, someone suggests that it's actually some sort of pseudo-bad thing that's actually about politics, the marginalized people are pushed out of the conversation and eventually there are actual deaths. Let me be clear that I'm completely 100% fine with the way this conversation is going, and that I'm not even remotely calling anyone out. It's just the pattern that happens whenever there's about to be ethnic violence, whether it's against Jews or someone else.

Once the claims of it being a false flag or hoax or whatever come out, people start talking about the big capital-P Politics in the region, and the attention turns away from the minority that's being used as a rallying point. Whenever a minority is in the spotlight and ethnicity is getting all tangled up with Nationalism (never an accident by the parties looking to win power) it turns out poorly.
posted by stoneweaver at 8:55 PM on April 17, 2014 [6 favorites]

This has historically not been a good thing for minorities in that part of the world.
posted by homerica at 23:39 on April 17 [+] [!]

In any part of the world.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:43 PM on April 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

[...] a restaurant I used to work at, the owner's mother still had that tattoo on her wrist. Auschwitz or Dachau, I never felt I had the intimacy to ask. But there are people still alive who remember being put in train cars.

Never again. Never, ever, ever again.

posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:50 PM on April 17

This. At the restaurant I work at, I see a fair number of customers (several are regulars) with the tattoos. It's heart wrenching to think of what they must be feeling right now.
posted by MexicanYenta at 7:20 AM on April 18, 2014

לעולם לא עוד
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:27 AM on April 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

Never again. Never, ever, ever again.

Except it HAS happened again. And the western world, Jews and Gentles alike, stood and watched it happen.

The words are a noble sentiment, but I'm the end, actions are what matters.
posted by happyroach at 8:26 AM on April 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

I know it's happened again. Rwanda, for one.

We need to stop it happening. This is one of the few cases I can agree with for the USA 'projecting force' anywhere. Except in this case Putin would probably push the Big Red Button and we'd all be screwed.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:35 AM on April 18, 2014

It's worth reading the whole thing rather than a tweet: and by 'worth it' I mean it may induce projectile vomiting rather then intense hatred.
posted by edgeways at 12:23 PM on April 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

Dude sounds like he was dropped on his head too many times as a small child.
posted by zarq at 12:47 PM on April 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

New Republic is saying it's a hoax.

Here's more on Ukraine from Julia Ioffe: Russia Has Basically Invaded Ukraine Again. Here's Why Kiev Isn't Shooting Back

What Does the Geneva Agreement Mean for Ukraine?
posted by homunculus at 2:37 PM on April 18, 2014

Not just any Russian politician, but deputy speaker of the Duma.
posted by Anything at 3:12 PM on April 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

Golden Eternity it's not correct to characterise what Assange was saying as being "supportive" of Russia's actions in the Crimea, unless you think that the absence of a blustering condemnation counts as "support".

(Also, holy shit, I had heard that Zhirinovsky was nuts but I had no idea he was so completely psychotic.)
posted by moorooka at 3:16 PM on April 18, 2014

Short blurb in News of Donbass reports that separatists are robbing and beating Romani.
posted by Kabanos at 7:09 PM on April 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Armed separatists have reportedly begun a series of home invasions against the city’s Romani population, robbing and assaulting their victims. The militants apparently have shown no regard for age or gender, and women and children have been among the victims who were beaten According to eyewitnesses, the gunmen carried off stolen property in trucks.
Holy shit
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:09 PM on April 18, 2014

Jews in East Ukraine Are Being Threatened, But By Whom?
According to Rabbi Vyshedski, the press secretary of the self-proclaimed republic, Aleksander Kriakov, is “the most famous anti-Semite in the region.” Vyshedski wondered how separatists who are trying to position themselves as “anti-fascist” and claiming it’s Kiev that’s run by neo-Nazis could pick Kriakov as their spokesman.

The sense of insecurity is heightened by the uncertainty and a feeling of abandonment. “I want to know why in two days of these threats, the Jewish community has not heard a single comment from either Donetsk—or from the Kiev authorities,” said the rabbi. “Last time Donetsk saw similar messages was in 1941, when the Nazi German army occupied Donetsk. It is so painful for us to see that some cynical politicians dare to use us as an instrument in their political games.” The rabbi said he is still hoping authorities will find the guilty ones and punish them.
posted by Golden Eternity at 8:16 AM on April 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

I am having trouble verifying the accuracy of this, but allegedly this is a video of a Synagogue being firebombed in Mykolaiv-Ukraine
posted by rosswald at 11:15 AM on April 20, 2014

This would seem to confirm it
posted by rosswald at 11:45 AM on April 20, 2014

A Putin affiliate evokes Hitler. The West should be worried.
“One must distinguish between Hitler before 1939 and Hitler after 1939. The thing is that Hitler collected [German] lands. If he had become famous only for uniting without a drop of blood Germany with Austria, Sudetenland and Memel, in fact completing what Bismarck failed to do, and if he had stopped there, then he would have remained a politician of the highest class.”
(Andranik Migranyan, head of Putin think tank)
What he does not mention, though, is that by 1939 Hitler was already engaged in killing Jews, dissidents, communists, homosexuals and, that year, the mentally and physically feeble. Kristallnacht, a government-sanctioned pogrom, occurred in 1938; the Nuremberg laws, depriving Jews of their civil rights, were promulgated in 1935 ...

posted by Golden Eternity at 8:32 AM on April 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

Last night NBC News mentioned something I hadn't realized was going on—they said that the Kiev government had provided the UN with a packet where they'd correlated photographs of the armed and uniformed "separatists" with photographs of Russian military personnel in other situations, for example from the 2008 invasion of Georgia, demonstrating that these are actually Russian military operating in Eastern Ukraine.

From another source,
“The sheer fact of wearing a balaclava mask, in the current situation, means that a person is foreign because there is no one to hide your identity from in Ukraine,” said Yegor Anchishkin, a Ukrainian programmer, entrepreneur and one of the founders of Viewdle, a facial recognition technology company purchased by Google in 2012.
posted by XMLicious at 11:03 AM on April 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

the Kiev government had provided the UN with a packet where they'd correlated photographs of the armed and uniformed "separatists" with photographs of Russian military personnel

Atlantic Council: Intelligence Chief: 100 Russian Officers Are Leading Ukraine's Uprisings

He seems to indicate Simon Ostrovsky of Vice News, a US reporter doing regular video dispatches from Ukraine entitled 'Russian Roulette: The Invasion of Ukraine,' was initially captured by Russians. Apparently, he is now being held by the GRU appointed "mayor" of Slaviansk and is not being let go because he is traveling on an Israeli passport; he is a dual citizen.
posted by Golden Eternity at 7:58 AM on April 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

The Jewish Daily Forward: The Real Truth About Those Anti-Semitic Flyers in Donetsk.
posted by Kabanos at 6:28 PM on April 23, 2014 [2 favorites]

Ten Hours in Slavyansk : interview in the daily Ukrayinska Pravda with the Belarusian opposition journalist Dzmitry Halko, who writes for Novy Chas, a weekly paper that is one of the very few independent outlets in Lukashenka’s repressive Belarus.
These people are copying the Maydan in its entirety. Even their barricades are the same as on the Maydan. And they try to serve you tea and some kind of food in exactly the same way.

There were women here who, learning that we were foreign journalists, began to chase away the drunks. There are a fairly large number of drunks there. They began to hiss at them, to drive them away – go away, they said, don’t spoil the picture! They served us tea and coffee, and we had a good sit down and relaxed completely. Very much mistakenly, as it turned out.

After this, we wanted to get to a district densely inhabited by Roma. We wanted to know whether there had really been any pogroms.
We crossed the bridge without problems, took a taxi, went to the station, and there, completely by chance, we met the last Roma left in Slavyansk.

This person was terribly scared. He had come back to fetch some children’s things or other, and was in a state of genuine terror. I stopped him and asked him to tell me what was going on.

It turned out that, a day before this, the entire Roma community had left the town en masse. Because, in his words, their homes had been fired on from the street. And all representatives of the community had received threats that they would be destroyed en masse, including the children, unless they fled.
North Korea, 1984 - Christopher Hitchens
posted by Golden Eternity at 11:27 AM on April 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

I wish I could be more certain that this wasn't just people eager to get a pogrom on, and the excuse of being able to point fingers at the other side was enough of a spark to light the fire.
posted by Etrigan at 11:57 AM on April 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

Crimean Residents To Face Russian-Style Repression
On April 15, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a report on Crimea documenting what the Russian government has tried to hide by denying international monitors access to Crimea:  the imprisonment, torture, and killings of Crimean citizens who opposed Russia’s illegal annexation of the peninsula prior to the March referendum. 

...on March 18 of the body of Crimean Tatar activist Reshat Ametov two weeks after he had been abducted, bearing clear evidence of abuse.  On March 25, Human Rights Watch reported that two Euromaidan activists in Crimea had been kidnapped and brutally tortured by Russian and local forces in secret facilities for 11 days.

On March 31, pro-Russian thugs beat a 14-year-old Tatar boy for speaking Tatar in public.  On March 18, Crimean Deputy Prime Minister Temirgaliyev announced that Tatars must give up their land to be used for other purposes.  On March 15 and 16, pro-Russia thugs kidnapped Ukrainian Greek Catholic priests, interrogated them, and had local “authorities” charge some of them with “extremism.”  Following anonymous death threats, the Chief Reform Rabbi of Crimea has fled.  All told, international organizations report that around 5,000 people, including minority Christians, Jews, and at least 3,000 Tatars, have fled Crimea and sought refuge elsewhere in Ukraine. 
posted by Golden Eternity at 7:19 AM on April 27, 2014

Russia's propaganda war is a danger for Ukraine's Jews: Despite what Putin says about antisemitism in the new Kiev government, Ukraine's Jews are committed to independence.
posted by Kabanos at 6:49 PM on April 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

A blog post on The Interpreter about Russian Orthodox Fascism and its links to the pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine. Includes a link to the 2012 film "Russian March 2012: Orthodoxy, Fascism, Paganism” made by
posted by Kabanos at 7:40 AM on May 1, 2014

Workers Seize City in Eastern Ukraine From Separatists
By late Thursday, miners and steelworkers had deployed in at least five cities, including the regional capital, Donetsk. They had not, however, become the dominant force there that they were in Mariupol ...

The effort is more than ad hoc. The coal and steel workers will soon have uniforms for the street patrols, Metinvest executives said, with patches identifying them as members of the “Volunteer People’s Patrol.”

If the patrols are successful, they said, they will try the tactic in most major cities in the Donetsk region, though not in Slovyansk, a stronghold of pro-Russian militants where Metinvest and DTEK have no factories or mines.

Residents welcomed the steelworker patrols for bringing an end to chaos and insecurity. They said masked men had robbed four grocery stores, a shop selling hunting rifles and a jewelry store, and that they had burned down a bank.

The crowds of pro-Russian protesters who had jeered and cursed Ukrainian soldiers last week were nowhere to be seen. On the city’s central square Thursday afternoon, a pro-Russian rally drew a few dozen protesters, who were watched over by a group of steelworkers.
Best news I've heard since the start of the invasion, assuming Russia doesn't respond with further escalation. It is interesting that Ukraine does not sell steel to Russia which is already an exporter. If Eastern Ukraine were to become part of Russia they would likely face sanctions and business would suffer.
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:05 PM on May 15, 2014

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