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Arrested pilgrims allege police abuse

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KIEV, Ukraine (JTA) — Jewish pilgrims stopped for speeding in a Ukrainian town say they were beaten by police.

Yakov Dov Bleich, chief rabbi of Kiev and Ukraine, told JTA that two fervently Orthodox pilgrims, citizens of Israel, who made a pilgrimage from London to the central Ukrainian town of Uman sued local police after they said they were beaten.

The police said the pilgrims, who were in Uman visiting the grave of the founder of the Bratslav movement, broke the speed limit twice and did not react properly after they were ordered to stop. One of the pilgrims and a police officer suffered injuries, according to Bleich.

The Uman city court found the pilgrims guilty of speeding and fined them. They also were ordered deported for resisting arrest.

“I don’t think this is a Jewish issue, it’s more a legal issue," Bleich told JTA.

Uman has become a mecca for Chasidim since 1808 when Rabbi Nahman, the founder of the Bratslav movement, died in the town and was buried there. Some 20,000 to 25,000 Jews visit Uman annually, many gathering there to celebrate the Jewish New Year.

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