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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Ukrainian cops accused of anti-Semitism

ODESSA, Ukraine  – In the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, a Jewish man named Dmitry Flekman says two men who identified themselves as police officers assaulted him at a police station while trying to extort money from him.

Flekman, aged 28, posted his story on the Ukrainian Jewish website
He alleges the officers demanded $10,000 from him and threatened to search his apartment where they would “find” cocaine. The assailants reportedly beat him with something resembling a crowbar and when they discovered he was Jewish they made him sit on the floor and urinated on him.

The chief of police in Lviv denies that Flekman was beaten, but the young man's claims are being investigated. As proof of the attack, Flekman provided photos of his hospital release form, showing he needed medical attention. He reportedly sustained a fractured tailbone.

Ukraine has a long history of anti-Semitism and reports still occasionally surface of Jews being targeted for their religion. Last month, FIFA censured Ukraine’s football fans for racist chants and making neo-Nazi gestures.

Historically, before World War II, Lviv was a proudly multicultural city with a thriving Jewish community. During the war, however, western Ukraine was under the control of the Nazis and Ukrainian collaborators who all but destroyed the community.

Today Western Ukraine is home to a nationalist movement and is the base of power for opposition political party Svoboda, which means freedom in Ukrainian. The group has made numerous anti-Semitic comments in the past and has referred to Jews as "Zhids," which roughly translates in English to “dirty Jews.”

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