US Secretary of State John Kerry has described reports that Jews in eastern Ukraine were being told to register with local authorities as “not just intolerable” but “grotesque”.
Speaking after meeting with diplomats from the European Union, the United States, Russia and Ukraine in Geneva in order to discuss the escalating situation in the Ukraine, Mr Kerry described the news as “beyond acceptable”.
Earlier this week, flyers were handed out in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, by three unidentified men holding the Russian Federation flag, calling on “all citizens of Jewish nationality” to register with the separatists, pay $50 for a special passport “marking the confession of faith”, and declare their property at a government building taken over by pro-Russian forces.
The flyers were allegedly signed by Dennis Pushilin, leader of the pro-Russian separatists who have taken over several official buildings in the area, and have declared the city the Independent Donetsk Republic.
But Mr Pushilin denied any involvement, instead insisting the leafltet were distributed by anti-separatist groups as a means of propaganda.
He told the Daily Mail: “I strong deny that this document on registering Jewish people is genuine.
“Those documents are aimed to discredit our people’s republic. I am personally strongly against any declarations of this sort made against Jewish or any other people. This is a dirty trick by our foes.”
According to The New Republic magazine, M r Pushilin was supported by unnamed sources in Donetsk's Jewish community, who said the flier had been produced by anti-Russian groups in western Ukraine hoping to smear the separatists.