«Jewish Observer»
September 2002
5763 Tishrei

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The pogrom in the Kiev Central synagogue evoked indignation of the public not only in Ukraine but in other countries as well. But after a number of articles about broken panes and beaten believers came out an informational silence reigned. Though, there still were left quite a few unanswered questions concerning this incident. Pogrom-makers broke the window of the "Syaivo" shop after its closure. Shop assistants called the militia at around 20.30 whereas the synagogue went under an assault almost an hour later. Nonetheless, the militia arrived, alas, when there was not a trace of attackers" ("Einikait", #14, 2002). Could the vandals heading for the synagogue be aware of their impunity? This generates natural anxiety whether pogrom's initiators be called to account. To highlight this issue we met with a deputy head of the militia headquarters in Kiev, head of the city investigation department colonel Fedor Kraevsky who agreed to answer our questions.

- Fedor Trofimovich, has the investigation restored the course of pogrom's events in the Central synagogue and its motives?

- After the football match at the "Dynamo" stadium ended a group of youngsters committed a number of hooligan actions in the Kreshchatik and Krasnoarmeiskaya streets. They crushed a telephone booth, a "Syaivo" shop's window and private kiosque. On approaching the synagogue they started throwing stones at windows, inflicted injuries to religions servicemen. The hooligans broke nine windows. That very day criminal proceedings were instituted on the ground of hooliganism, three participants of the pogrom were detained. Six persons are now sued as defendants. They are accused of committing crimes under article 296 of Criminal Code (hooliganism), article 161 (violation of citizens' equality with regard to their racial, national or religions belonging), article 178 (damage to a religions monument), article 298 (damage to an architectural monument which synagogue is). In August the case was submitted to the court.

- So, a crime's motive was merely drunk hooliganism?

- During the investigation, we were considering all possible versions including those advanced in mass media. None of the detainees belongs to skinheads, though one of them admitted he sympathizes with this movement. The defendants also didn't look like skinheads (no skin head, tattoos, swastikas, specific shoes) except the attack's organizer Volkov who has long escaped detention. We had talks with relatives, pedagogues, friends and acquaintances of the detainees. Nobody confirmed their belonging to any organization.

- What team do the detainees support?

- They are fans of the "Dynamo" (Kiev).

- As this team won that day its fans engaged in hooliganism from joy?

- I don't know. Such hooliganism is not exceptional. There was an incident when the metro station near Palace of Sport was devastated and three militiamen were beaten. Six persons were arrested then. Dozens of trolley buses and trams went out of order after the hooliganism of football fans. This is not so much due to a match result as to the alcohol consumed before the match. Even small doses of alcohol make youngsters lose control over themselves.

- What was the total number of attackers on the synagogue?

- All in all there were over 40 persons, but we can officially call to account only those whose direct participation in hooligan actions has been proved. Presence in a crime scene or shouts in support of hooligans are not considered accessory to a crime.

- Since the accusation includes article 161 of the Criminal Code then, obviously, you consider detainees' anti-Semitic actions proved?

- This is testified by the fact the assaulted building is a Jewish religions establishment (synagogue) and one of its clergy was beaten.

- Do you have any data about an analogous synagogue's pogrom in Nikolaev? Did these crimes have anything in common?

- This was not studied. Unfortunately, similar actions, including vandalism in cemeteries, are not a rare phenomenon in our life.

- Is the pogrom organizer a member of any organization or football fan? Have the pogrom participants been prosecuted for any crimes before?

- We don't know whether he belongs to any organization, though some traits of skinheads are available. The synagogue attackers have not been earlier sued for any crimes.

- Have football fans committed similar crimes with regard to religions temples?

- Such assaults on temples have not been registered over several recent years.

- It is known Nazi literature is on free sale in Kiev: in Maidan Nezalezhnosti, book market "Petrovka" and prestigious shops. Since it is of an instigating character, isn't it reasonable to take control over publishing and selling such literature?

- Undoubtedly, this issue should be taken under strict control.

While selling Nazi literature is uncontrolled, we shall add here, there exists a danger of conducting new anti-Jewish actions, and not only against synagogues and cemeteries. Moreover, it is difficult to get this literature controlled when anti-Semitic moods win over more and more of those who name themselves Ukrainian intelligentsia. Suffice it to recall anti-Jewish publications of the "Personal" magazine issued by the Interregional academy of personnel management and International personnel academy. When the newspaper "CN - Stolichnye novosti" exposed anti-Semitism of separate "Personal" publications, the Presidium of Academy of sciences of Ukraine's higher school, Board of Confederation of non-government higher educational institutions of Ukraine, newspapers "Demokratychna Ukraina" and "Sil'ski visti" came out in the magazine's defence. Another act in support of "Personal" became the declaration ("Sil'ski visti", August 1, 2002) signed by people's deputies Ivan Bokiy, Sergei Nikolaenko, Grigory Omelchenko, Konstantin Sytnik, Ivan Spodarenko, Vasily Chervoniy and Andrei Shkil. The authors of the declaration assert "their reputation has never been "tarnished" with any anti-Semitic or xenophobian views or actions". I remember I heard approximately the same words in court from the representatives of Karpenko's "Vecherny Kiev", separate publications of which were openly anti-Semitic - the most authoritative organizations of Ukraine confirmed this.

The deputies declare an "irreproachable civil and moral reputation" of Georgy Shchekin and Igor Slisarenko. The declaration reiterates an already banal invention critics of anti-Semitic publications of "Personal" allegedly protest against any criticism of Zionism or Israel's policy. Only those totally unfamiliar with the "Personal" publications could have signed such text. Probably, critics of "Personal" have touched on the raw those rather influential forces, which, so far, were hiding their support of national-chauvinists. That's why we can assume these forces will inevitably counteract establishing control over editions stirring up interethnic discord in Ukraine.

P.S. As we have already informed, the militia detained in Poltava the organizer of the synagogue' assault in Kiev. According to the press-service head of MIA Headquarters in Kiev Alexander Zarubitsky, "We have, finally, spotted and detained him". In his words, he had long been hiding abroad.


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