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Report: Jewish Oligarch Threatened Separatists in Ukraine

Tapes surface claiming Jewish regional governor has placed a bounty on a major pro-Russian separatist leader, hired hit men for fire attack.
By Yedidia Ben-Or and Tova Dvorin
First Publish: 5/18/2014, 10:02 AM

Ukraine, the army (illustration)
Ukraine, the army (illustration)
Reuters

Igor Kolomoisky, Dnepropetrovsk's Jewish regional governor, has allegedly threatened a pro-Russian separatist leader over the death of a Jewish soldier in the Ukrainian army, Yediot Aharonot reports Sunday.

The daily's contacts in Kiev heard recordings documenting the threats, whereby Kolomoisky stated that "a synagogue in Dnepropetrovsk paid a million dollars for the assassination" of Oleg Tzriov, a separatist leader currently in power in eastern Ukraine. The threats stemmed from the murder of a Jewish soldier in the Ukrainian army who was killed during clashes with pro-Russian militants. 

The tapes also implicate Kolomoisky in the deaths of 42 people in Odessa earlier this month. Jewish community leaders can be heard heavily defending the billionaire, whom they claim hired men to set a building in the city filled with pro-Russian armed gunmen on fire. The incident was a major media item, as protestors became enraged over what they claimed was police brutality and a "red line" in the ongoing conflict between political dissenters and Ukrainian authorities. 

"I have a feeling he [Kolomoisky] is out of his mind," an official says on the tapes, noting fears that the Odessa fire would engender "crazy attacks" against Jews. 

Kolomoisky has been a particularly vocal critic of the pro-Russian separatist push in the region, engaging in a verbal scuffle with Russian President Vladimir Putin over the future of Ukraine in April. The oligarch's bank was later attacked by protestors, in a move largely seen as a direct backlash for his political leanings. 

Kolomoisky has taken several drastic measures to protect Dnepropetrovsk against the onslaught of pro-Russian forces, according to the Kyiv Post. He has reportedly offered $1,500 for the seizure of guns and $10,000 for capturing armed separatists, whom he has labelled as terrorists. The tactics, while controversial, have allegedly kept separatist activity at bay.