Ukraine crisis: US condemns anti-semitic leaflets during Geneva talks despite questions over authenticity

Leaflets threatened Jewish residents in Donetsk to supply a 'detailed list of all the property they own' or have their citizenship revoked

The US has vowed to investigate anti-semitic leaflets which ordered Jews to register with pro-Russian authorities in eastern Ukraine, even after it emerged that Jewish residents were not being forced to do so and the alleged authors denied any association with them.

The leaflets were reportedly distributed by masked men outside a synagogue in Donetsk.

But even though the purported authors of the flier described it as a crude attempt to discredit them, John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, condemned them during a crisis meeting in Geneva attended by Russian, Ukrainian and EU counterparts.

"Notices were sent to Jews in one city indicating that they had to identify themselves as Jews ... or suffer the consequences," he said during the meeting.

"In the year 2014, after all of the miles travelled and all of the journey of history, this is not just intolerable; it's grotesque. It is beyond unacceptable," he said as members met to draw up a four-way agreement to work to defuse the crisis in eastern Ukraine.  

Mr Kerry said Russian Orthodox Church members in Ukraine had also received threats "that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church was somehow going to attack them in the course of the next days."

"That kind of behaviour, that kind of threat, has no place," he said.

The leaflets have been dismissed as a "provocation" by the Jewish community, who issued a statement stressing the relationship between the Jews of Donetsk and their neighbours is amicable.

"It's important for everyone to know it's not true," chief rabbi, Shmuel Kaminezki said. "The Jews of Donetsk will not do what the letter says."

The Israeli news site YNetNews first published an article claiming the leaflets called for all Jewish residents aged 16 and older should supply a "detailed list of all the property they own, or else have their citizenship revoked, face deportation and see their assets confiscated".

It is not yet clear exactly who is behind the leaflets, which are written in Russian and bear Russia’s national symbol alongside the symbol of the Donetsk People's Republic.

The proclaimed head of the "People's Republic," Denis Pushilin, denied his group had any connection to the fliers.

Kirill Rudenko, a spokesman for the People's Republic of Donbass, also said they have no affiliation with the leaflets.

"We made no such demands on Jews," he said. "We have nothing against Jews.

"This is just another attempt to tarnish our image ... It is a crude forgery."

The US State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said in Washington that the United States was still trying to determine who was behind the leaflets and added: "We take any anti-Semitism very seriously."

Read more: Putin asserts Russia's 'right' to invade country
Foreign Ministers agree on steps to ease tensions

Additional reporting by agencies

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Copywriter / Direct Response Copywriter

£20k plus sales linked bonus. : Guru Careers: We are seeking a Copywriter to j...

Recruitment Genius: Accounting Technician

£17000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has bec...

Guru Careers: 3D Creative Designer

Up to £26k DOE: Guru Careers: A Junior / Mid-Level 3D Creative Designer is nee...

Recruitment Genius: Ecommerce Website Digital Marketing Manager - Fashion / Retail

£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You'll be joining a truly talen...

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen