Kiev synagogue was bugged, chief rabbi says


(JTA) — Secret recording devices and other surveillance activities were discovered at one of Kiev’s main synagogues, according to a chief rabbi of Ukraine who said this “discredits the state.”

Moshe Azman, one of two chief Orthodox rabbis in Ukraine, announced the discovery this month in a statement Tuesday.

The synagogue’s security task force discovered individuals who “professionally carried out a covert surveillance of the premises and visitors of the Kiev Central Synagogue on 13 Shota Rustaveli Street,” Azman wrote.

The bugs were found in subsequent sweeps inside the “house of God,” as Azman called the synagogue in protest of the alleged surveillance activity there.

“I am obliged to emphasize my deep concern about actions that not only compromise our community and are manifestations of anti-Semitism, but also discredit the nation as a whole,” he said.

Azman said his security crew informed not only Ukrainian authorities about the discovery but also Israeli officials. He said he suspected “high-level law-enforcement officials” in Ukraine of mounting the surveillance operation.

Azman demanded an explanation from the government and legal action against the initiators of the alleged surveillance operation.

The government’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine has denied the accusations.

Under communism, Jewish communities and individuals came under constant surveillance in the former Soviet Union, to which Ukraine used to belong.

In his statement, Azman also said that his and other Jewish communities have spoken out against Russian propaganda that uses anti-Semitism to discredit Ukraine.

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