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Svoboda party disavows threatening letter to Ukrainian Jew

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(JTA) — The Ukrainian ultra-nationalist Svoboda party distanced itself from a recent anti-Semitic letter carrying its logo.

The Ukrainian news site Obozrevatel reported that the letter sent this month to a prominent Jewish movie director, David Cherkassky, read: “Dear Shmuel, you live and grow fat in Ukraine. We are very happy for you as long as everything is quiet, but your peace and quiet will not last long. So gather your belongings before it is too late.”

A Svoboda spokesperson said the party had nothing to do with the letter.

This is “another attempt to do divert attention away from the authorities’ failed social and economic policies by implanting artificial incitement of ethnic hatred in Ukraine,” the spokesperson said, according to Obozrevatel.

Cherkassky said the letter appeared to be written based on a template.

In April, Svoboda blamed “provocateurs” from outside the party for triggering a small but violent riot in the Ukrainian city of Cherkasy, where several young men marched at a political rally with jackets and shirts emblazoned with the party name and logo and the slogan “Beat the kikes.”

Last year, Svoboda entered the Ukrainian parliament for the first time with 10 percent of the national vote. The party had received less than 1 percent in the previous elections.

Some of the party’s leaders have used anti-Semitic pejoratives.

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