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Ukraine Town Demands List of all its Jews, Causes Global Outrage


Update May 20, 2020: The Police Officer Mykhailo Bank who requested the town’s list of Jews has been fired; more here.

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A Ukrainian Jewish group accused the nation’s police force of “open antisemitism” after a high-ranking police official requested a list of all Jews in the western city of Kolomyya as part of an inquiry into organized crime.

The official request to the head of Kolomyya’s Jewish community is dated February 18, 2020, according to a photograph of the document that Eduard Dolinsky, director of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee, shared on Twitter Sunday.

“Please provide us the following information regarding the Orthodox Jewish religious community of Kolomyya, namely: The organization’s charter; list of members of the Jewish religious community, with indication of data, mobile phones and their places of residence,” read the letter.

The letter was signed by Myhaylo Bank, a high-ranking officer in the national police force who handles organized crime. The letter did not explain his unit’s particular interest in Kolomyya’s Jews.

The head of the city’s Jewish community, Jacob Zalichker, declined to provide the requested information, adding that his community would comply only when presented with a court-ordered warrant.“It’s a total disgrace and open anti-Semitism,” Dolinsky told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “It’s especially dangerous when it comes from a law enforcement agency that we have to fight the very thing it is perpetrating.”Kolomyya and its environs, located about 250 miles southwest of Kiev, has several hundred Jews.

One Ukrainian parliamentarian announced today that he would seek an investigation into Bank’s letter, charging that the Ukrainian police demand was itself a “violation of the law. The parliamentarian, Igor Fris, stated he had also spoken with Volodymyr Holubosh — the regional head of Ukraine’s Interior Ministry — who “apologized on behalf of the leadership and staff to the entire Jewish community for the situation.”

While acknowledging Holubosh’s apology, Fris asserted that the police letter had been dangerously inflammatory. “I believe that the leadership of the Ministry of Internal Affairs should evaluate the actions of its subordinates, which not only tarnish police uniforms, but also inflame ethnic conflict where it has never been in modern Ukraine,” he was quoted as saying.

Another parliamentarian urged the immediate dismissal of Bank from the Ukrainian police force.

“A policeman who decides to conduct a census of the Jews of Ivano-Frankivsk must and will be fired,” Oleksander Dubinsky declared on his Facebook page.

The letter was also condemned by the Israeli ambassador in Kiev, Joel Lion.