A pro-Russian separatist group in eastern Ukraine is denying responsibility for the distribution of flyers that called for all Jews to register with the separatists and begin to pay special taxes.
The flyers were distributed earlier this week in Donetsk, where separatists led by Denis Pushilin have taken control of multiple government buildings and declared their independence from Ukraine.
The flyers demanded that all Jews 16 years or older register at the now-separatist controlled government building, pay a $50 registration fee, and report all real estate and automobiles owned.
Though the “official-looking” flyers appear to have the signature of Pushilin, he is denying any involvement, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
The flyers were official-looking documents that carried what was presented as Pushilin’s signature, but the news site tvrain.ru on Wednesday quoted Pushilin as denying any connection to the flyers, calling them a provocation.
On Tuesday, the news website novosti.dn.ua reported that the flyers were handed out that day by three unidentified men in balaclava masks carrying a flag of the Russian Federation. According to the report, the men distributed the flyers next to a local synagogue. The website quoted unnamed sources from the local Jewish community as saying that the flyers were an attempt to provoke a conflict and blame the attack on the separatists.
There have been many anti-semitic acts since the unrest in Ukraine began.
Several anti-Semitic attacks, including a stabbing and the attempted torching of a synagogue, have occurred in Ukraine since the eruption in November of a revolution over the perceived pro-Russian policies of former President Viktor Yanukvych. He was ousted from power in February.
A copy of the flyer has been made available by the Coordination Forum for Countering Antisemitism.