Flyers Calling for Jews to Register in Ukraine Are Fake, Says Jewish Official; US Ambassador Calls Them 'Real Deal'
The Washington, D.C.-based National Conference Supporting Jews said Thursday that "official-looking" flyers demanding Jews in the Ukrainian city of Donetsk to register with the Nationalities Commissioner are fake.
The flyers, which were signed in the name of Denis Pushilin, the leader of Donetsk's pro-Russian separatists, threatened that if Jews in that city failed to register with the Nationalities Commissioner and pay $50, they would lose their citizenship and face deportation.
"NCSJ has contacted the Donetsk Jewish community leaders, who called the flyers a provocation. They said that all authorities have denied any connection to the flyers, and that Pushilin has denied authorship," said the Jewish advocacy group in a statement.
"Several members of the community went to the Nationalities Commissioner, who repudiated the flyer, and said that the leaflets were distributed to cause unrest among the Jewish population," the statement continued.
The flyers were first reported Thursday by Israeli news organization Ynet and republished by USA Today.
In an earlier CNN report, U.S. Ambassador to the Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt, suggested that the flyers were authentic.
"Everything that we're hearing suggests that this is the real deal, and that it is coming from somebody on the ground there among these radical groups," Pyatt said, "either to stir fear or to create provocation justifying further violence."
Pyatt also called the flyers "chilling" and condemned them.
"It's chilling. I was disgusted by these leaflets," Pyatt said. "Especially in Ukraine, a country that suffered so terribly under the Nazis that was one of the sites of the worst violence of the Holocaust. To drag up this kind of rhetoric is almost beyond belief."
The NCSJ says their team has been in regular contact with the State Department and the U.S. Embassy in Kiev on the issue of the flyers and will provide more details as they become available.