Ukrainian Jewish leader: Protests put community ‘on high alert’

(JTA) — Widespread protests in Ukraine have prompted the country’s Jewish communities to up security arrangements, a community leader from Kiev has said.

“Now that streets across Ukraine are full of civilians, the community’s safety is becoming our primary concern,” Oleksandr Feldman, a Ukrainian lawmaker and president of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee, wrote in statement published Wednesday by the Israeli Ma’ariv daily.

The protests started two weeks ago after President Viktor Yanukovych suspended preparations for signing an EU association agreement that would have eased the import of European products to Ukraine and set the stage for the relaxing of travel restrictions.

Feldman called the protests “a tour de force by various opposition parties, from liberals who support ties with the European Union, to the ultrantionalist and anti-Russian Svoboda party.” The involvement of Svoboda “and other elements with anti-Semitic tendencies may lead to a situation where the Jewish community is made into a scapegoat,” Feldman warned.  “We are on high alert.”

Feldman added, “To a considerable degree, the Ukrainian Jewish community supports promoting a path toward merger into the European Union … but it is important to adopt a neutral and comprehensive position.”

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