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Holocaust Memorial Defaced in Ukraine

Neo-Nazis desecrate memorial, Jewish cemetery; incident raises fear of post-revolution anti-Semitic surge.
By Ari Soffer
First Publish: 4/9/2014, 10:47 PM

Far-right Right Sector activists outside Ukraine's parliament
Far-right Right Sector activists outside Ukraine's parliament
Reuters

A holocaust memorial monument in Odessa, Ukraine, has been vandalized, apparently by neo-Nazi groups involved in the ouster of former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych.

Swastikas and Waffen SS signs were daubed on the memorial, and the words "Death to the Jews" and "Right Sector" were also found painted on the walls of the nearby Jewish cemetery, according to UNIAN news agency. "Right Sector" is the name of a far-right coalition which played a prominent part in violent clashes with government forces during the revolution.

The question of anti-Semitism in post-revolution Ukraine - which already suffered from high-levels of xenophobia and anti-Semitism from neo-Nazi groups - has been hotly debated. 

The Russian government has long alleged that the relative prominence of far-right militias in the former opposition movement, as well as rising ultranationalist sentiment, poses a real danger for the country's Jewish population. Ukrainian officials have dismissed the claims as attempts by Russia to justify its annexation of the Crimea. 

For the most part the Ukrainian Jewish leadership has also denied the claims of a spike in anti-Semitism, despite several high-profile violent incidents.