Ukraine's Jews Forced To Register Or Face Deportation, According To Reports

According to reports in Russian media, Jews in East Ukraine are being told to "register" themselves or else have "their citizenship revoked, face deportation and see their assets confiscated." On Thursday, Jews coming out of a synagogue near Donetsk — the site of the new "anti-terrorist" operation — reported being handed leaflets with the information by three masked men carrying a Russian Federation flag. Though officials are denying any involvement, whether the flyers are deliberate provocation or real political move remains unclear.

The leaflets — which are addressed to "Dear Ukraine citizens of Jewish nationality" — call all Jews over the age of 16 years old to "register" with the Commissioner for Nationalities in the Donetsk Regional Administration building. "ID and passport are required to register your Jewish religion, religious documents of family members, as well as documents establishing the rights to all real estate property that belongs to you, including vehicles," the leaflets read. Failing to register will reportedly lead to citizenship being revoked "and you will be forced outside the country with a confiscation of property."

These horrifying (and, frankly, unbelievable) leaflets —bearing the stamp of the People's Republic of Donetsk, and apparently signed by the self-proclaimed people's governor Denis Pushilin — were given to Jews coming out from a synagogue in East Ukraine Thursday by "three unidentified men wearing balaclavas and carrying the flag of the Russian Federation."

According to the news service the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, however, Pushilin has denied having anything to do with the flyers, and has called them a "provocation." The Russian news site Novosti Donbassa has similarly suggested that the mysterious men were probably provocateurs trying "to provoke a conflict, then to blame the attack on separatists."

This may not be so off base — the area of Donetsk has been growing increasingly unstable over the last week and just yesterday, masked, apparently pro-Russian gunmen stormed the local council. As it stands, the city is torn in its affiliations; a recent poll showed 65 percent of locals wanting it to stay part of Ukraine, the rest were vocal in their support for joining Russia.

UPDATE: The New Republic reports that although this leaflet does seem to be circulating, no effort to register Ukrainian Jews has been enforced, and no Ukrainian Jews are registering themselves.