(JTA) — The head of the European Jewish Association has called on the Ukrainian government to ensure the safety of the country’s Jews in the wake of the election to parliament of an anti-Semitic party.
"We are not presuming of course, to interfere in internal Ukraine affairs and its voters’ decisions, however we are very concerned about the safety of Ukrainian Jews and are seeking to prevent expansion of anti-Semitism in Europe," Rabbi Menachem Margolin said in a statement.
On Oct. 28, the ultranationalist Svoboda Party, or Freedom Party, made unprecedented gains in Ukraine’s parliamentary elections, garnering 12 percent of the vote, after winning less than 1 percent in the last election, in 2007. The percentage means that the party can control a parliament faction for the first time.
Party leader Oleg Tyagnibok has called in the past for purges of the estimated 70,000 Jews living in Ukraine, as well as other minorities. The party has held several protest rallies against the presence of Jews in Uman, in the center of the country.