Ukrainian president pledges to protect Jews


KIEV, Ukraine (JTA) — Ukraine’s president pledged to protect his country’s Jews as well as other ethnic minorities.

Protection of ethnic minorities’ rights in Ukraine, including Jews, their cultural life and activities were on the table during a meeting Thursday between Ilya Levitas, chairman of the National Associations Council and Jewish Council of Ukraine, and Victor Yushchenko.

Levitas told JTA that he is satisfied with the discussion, and that during the meeting Yushchenko gave concrete instructions to government officials to handle current issues and to protect Jewish culture.

 “I am satisfied very much and we agreed to make concrete steps to commemorate the memory of famous Jewish heroes in Ukraine, to establish an Avenue of Righteous persons and to place an eternal flame in the Babi Yar state historical and cultural preserve," Levitas said.

Yushchenko said during the meeting that an accord with the national minorities in Ukraine is a priority in state policy, the president’s press service reported. Yushchenko reiterated that in April 2008 he asked his ministers to create a set of measures to counteract ethnic, racial intolerance and xenophobia in Ukraine.

Some Jewish leaders believe that the level of anti-Semitic publications has decreased considerably, as have other anti-Semitic manifestations in Ukraine, while others call the situation of anti-Semitism in Ukraine “stable."

Statistics, however, point to increased vandalism in synagogues, Jewish cemeteries and Holocaust memorials. 

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