KIEV, Ukraine (JTA) — Ukrainian Jewish leaders are asking that the mayor of a major Ukrainian city be charged for assault and making anti-Semitic statements.
In a request to the prosecutor general , the Jewish Forum of Ukraine on Sunday asked that Uzhgorod Mayor Sergey Ratushniak’s conduct be examined in accordance with the Criminal Code of Ukraine on inciting interethnic hatred.
Ratushniak allegedly assaulted a woman, 21, last week as she campaigned for the Front of Changes initiative near the university in Uzhgorod, located in western Ukraine at the Slovakia border. The mayor also openly made anti-Semitic statements and anti-Israel remarks.
“All Ukrainian Jews are indignant at Ratushniak’s outrageous anti-Semitism and do not understand why the prosecutor general and the Interior Ministry remain silent on this matter,” Yevgeny Chervonenko, the vice president of the All-Ukrainian Jewish Congress and the Jewish Forum of Ukraine, as well as the first deputy mayor of Kiev, said in a statement.
Chervonenko added that the statements by the Uzhgorod mayor “are not only aimed at inciting interethnic hatred but are of the same nature as Nazism.”
According to an Interfax news agency report Saturday, Ratushniak was commenting on activities of the Front for Change initiative headed by parliament member Arseniy Yatsenyuk, a leading presidential candidate whose parents reportedly were Jewish, when he said, "Impudent Jew Yatsenyuk, who was successfully serving to thieves, who are at power in Ukraine, is using criminal money to plow ahead towards Ukraine’s presidency.”
Also, according to Interfax, Ratushniak said that “Criminal Jew Yatsenyuk has apparently decided that these are the elections to a village council somewhere in Israel. So, using criminal money, he gathered drug traffickers and smugglers, and without the permission of the city council is showering our city with the garbage.”
According to the alleged assault victim, Ratushniak began to insult female campaigners for Yatsenyuk, then grabbed her by the throat and pushed her to the ground.
Ratushniak denies the accusations.
Presidential elections are scheduled for Jan. 17.
“Arseniy Yatsenyuk is not Jewish, but he is a very nice person and definitely a good candidate,” Rabbi Yaakov Dov Bleich, chief rabbi of Ukraine, told JTA.
Political analyst Tars Kuzio has said that Yatsenyuk’s Jewish origins could hurt his chances. Jewish leaders and experts predict that some political forces will play the “Jewish card” during the elections.