Eliezer Berland, a convicted sex offender who leads the Shuvu Banim community, on Thursday attempted to enter Ukraine ahead of the Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) holiday, but was refused entry, Ynet reported.
Many hasidic Jews visit Uman, Ukraine, for Rosh Hashanah, holding prayers and holiday celebrations at the gravesite of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov.
According to Ynet, Berland has a "black stamp" in his passport for a period of three years, and is not allowed to enter Ukraine. The Ukrainians refused to allow him into their country due to this ban, and Berland was forced to turn around and is now on his way back to Israel.
As part of his journey to Ukraine, Berland spent the past week in neighboring Romania, and waited for an opportunity to cross the border. On Thursday, he arrived at the Suceava Border Crossing, where he was turned away.
Berland has visited Uman twice since completing his prison sentence. His followers claimed Thursday that Berland's opponents bribed sources in Ukraine to refuse him entry, and made false accusations against him.
All three times, Berland received permission from the Israeli court to leave the country despite an order barring him from leaving Israel. Last year, Berland tried to travel to Ukraine, but was surprised to discover the "black stamp," which expires only next year.
Sources in Shuvu Banim claim that there has not yet been an instance in which a person's passport is marked with a "black stamp" despite him not doing anything against Ukraine. They told Ynet: "He finished paying his debt to society, he can fly anywhere in the world. Ukraine is the only country which will not allow him entry, despite the fact that they know that people with much more problematic backgrounds travel to Uman."
Last month, it was reported that Jerusalem Minister Meir Porush (United Torah Judaism) contacted the Ambassador of Ukraine in Israel, Korniychuk Yevgen, requesting to lift the ban imposed by Kyiv on Berland from entering the country so that he could come to Uman on Rosh Hashanah with his followers.
In addition, Porush sent a letter to an administrative court in Ukraine on this matter, but the court rejected the request and left the entry ban on Berland for the next three years.