KIEV, Ukraine (JTA) — Jewish leaders called on Ukrainian authorities to press charges against a politician for inciting ethnic hatred.
In letters addressed to national and local authorities, leaders of Jewish organizations in the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson accused Sergey Kirichenko, a member of the Union of Left Powers and member of Kherson City Council, of systematic anti-Semitic propaganda.
Rabbi Josef Wolf, chief rabbi of Kherson and the surrounding region, told JTA that Kirichenko continues to accuse Jews of robbing the Ukrainians, and of plotting to enslave them and exterminate Slavs in general, on the local radio show Vik and in local Vik publications. Kirichenko also claims that Jews “occupied the region."
Kirichenko also accuses Jews of taking over the country and striving to wipe out the Slavic race.
“The Jews are occupiers, they have occupied us, they stole all our wealth and control us," Kirichenko claimed in a recent interview, adding also that Jews "create terms that will enable genocide of the Slavic people.”
Kirichenko also has defined "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" as a “historic document.”
Jewish leaders have theorized that Kirichenko’s anti-Jewish campaign is part of his bid to replace Kherson’s mayor, who is Jewish.
Kirichenko’s recent statements outraged the Rabbinical Center of Europe, which urged Ukrainian authorities to put Kirichenko on trial and promote legislation banning similar expressions.
“It would be imprudent to disregard these comments," the center wrote in a statement. "The Ukrainian government must pass a law barring such narrow-mindedness, like most other European states have.”
Hate speech is illegal in Ukraine. Last September, Kherson Jewish leaders appealed to Ukrainian authorities to take action and put Kirichenko on trial. Meanwhile, Kherson Jewish leaders told JTA that a Kiev expert commission did not find Kirichenko guilty of inciting ethnic hatred in Ukraine for anti-Semitic claims and publications, while Kherson law enforcement agencies and experts did.
It is still unclear whether local authorities will bring charges over Kirichenko’s statements for “infringement of equal rights on the basis of racial or ethnic identity or attitude to religion,” an offense under the Ukrainian criminal code.