Vandalism at Jewish cemetery
Participants of joint meeting of consultative council of religious-secular consent and of council of ethno-national societies under support of mayor of Odessa, condemned the facts of vandalism, which took place last week. The correspondent document regarding this question was signed. Participants of the meeting agreed that these acts became possible because of lack of educational work with youth. “We will clean out graves, but is it possible to clean out souls of people, who did it?” – said advisor of chief rabbi of Odessa and Odessa region, leader of Odessa Judaic religious community (“Tikva” – “Ohr Sameah”) Shlomo Yarmola.
Secretary of Odessa City Council Aleksander Prokopenko agreed that authorities of the city should pay more attention to educational work with youth. “Educational factor is to become the main one in our work”, - he said.
In his turn, head of society “Ukraine – Israel” Dmitriy Goutakhov appealed to authorities with the request to accelerate the issue of permissions for building of children international esthetic center at 52, Kanatnaya street.
I. Yastremsky appealed to municipal authorities, proposing to enforce the guard of cemeteries and informed that directorate of internal affairs would take under video-control the biggest ones. 12 squares of the city are already under the control of this kind.
On 11 March three persons under suspect in violation of graves at III Jewish cemetery were seized by Odessa militia.
As it was informed by deputy head of central directorate of ministry of internal affairs in Odessa region, Aleksey Khlevnoy, two persons under arrest were 25 y.o. and the third one aged 19. Young people confessed in executed deeds and showed the place where they threw away paint containers. Clothes and gloves with traces of paint were expropriated from them. They also showed the way they violated graves.
Vandals insist that they just wanted to see the reaction of society towards their crime. They were never members of extremist groupings, though the youngest was interested in fascist literature. One of arrested has higher education and worked as a secretary in the court for some time.
Accusation according to article 297 of Criminal Codex of Ukraine - violation of graves – was raised to suspected persons.
According to chief of regional directorate of Ministry of internal affairs, Gennadiy Podroiko, the violation of Jewish sites, which took place in February in Odessa, didn’t have the character of order.
According to militia data, the initiator and organizer is the student of maritime school (born in 1987), who “over-read national-socialist literature”. The literature of this kind was expropriated from him during house-check. According to information, he proposed to two acquaintances to conduct a “Nazi action”. III Jewish cemetery was chosen because “bigger number of Jews were buried there and the action could go unnoticed”.
Criminals bought 5 containers with red automobile nitro-paint, according to their explanation this color is well-seen both on black and white stones. As G. Podroiko said, one container is enough to make 10 sq.m of signatures.
At daytime on 10 February young men entered the cemetery through the fence from the side of Prokhorovskaya street, got sure that there were no guards in this place. 18 February about 10 p.m. young men found their way to the cemetery again, where they violated 302 burials by painting swastika on grave-stones.
The suspected men hitched to Srednefontanskaya street and then went to Prokhorovskiy park by feet, where they made offensive inscriptions at Alley of zaddikim. After that one of vandals proposed to leave signatures at the memorial plate “to a Jewish doer” at Risheliyevskaya street (at the house, where Leon Pinsker, doctor, publicist and public figure lived). From there the criminals hitched to Tolboukhin square, where they vandalized the memorial to victims of Nazi.
According to leader of directorate of Ministry of internal affairs, the initiator of action is not a member of any organization. But the suspected said that “there are a lot of us”.
The arrested were accused according to the article “violation of graves” that provides the confinement for the term of 3 years. But in the process of investigation the matter can be reconsidered. By opinion of G. Podroiko the accusation is to be made according to the article “hooliganism”, that provides more serious confinement. “This affair is not the problem of militia, but it’s the problem of the whole society”.
Odessa militia must conduct investigative experiment to prove, that the act of violation over Jewish monuments in February was done by only 3 people. That opinion was expressed by deputy of Odessa city council Vadim Morokhovsky. “Much more people participated in this planned action. Everything is not to be written off for only these three arrested men”, - he says.
The deputy insists that the criminals violated not 302, but more than 700 graves and it was already admitted by the procuracy of the city. By opinion of V. Morokhovsky to paint this number of gravestones three young people would need not less than 7 hours.
Monument to victims of holocaust near Tolboukhin square
On 18 February unknown criminals violated the monument to victims of holocaust near Tolbukhin square in Odessa. On both sides of the monument swastikas were painted. As well as in the previous case of monuments violation in Prokhorovsky square, inscription was made with cliché.
Memorial plate dedicated to Leon Pinsker
Vandals draw swastika and words “Happy Holocaust!” on the memorial plate, that was established on building № 44/46, Risheliyevskaya street. This memorial sign is dedicated to Leon Pinsker, doctor, publicist and public figure.
These days 302 graves were violated at III Jewish cemetery (workers of the cemetery reject the fact that vandals broke several gravestones).
Chief rabbi of Odessa and Odessa region Shlomo Baksht: “I’m shocked. It’s a shock for all of us…”
It’s hard to believe that violation of Jewish sites in Odessa is a spontaneous expression of emotions of a crazy person, it looks as a planned and organized action – this confidence was expressed by chief rabbi of Odessa and Odessa region, leader of Odessa religious Judaic community Shlomo Baksht. According to his words, this event shocked not only Jews, but also people of other nationalities. “Nobody would think that it could happen here in Odessa. Before these events I supposed, that there was no anti-Semitism in this city. Now I have doubts”, - says rabbi.
He added: “First of all I’m sorry for those who did it, because they descended to this level… We know, that organizations, which are to investigate this crime are already in the process of work. We were told at law-enforcement bodies, that it was a big shame for them and everything would be done to seize vandals”.
“I hope that these are single cases and that it would never repeat again and that it is not characteristic of Odessa”, - finalized Shlomo Baksht.
Ministry of internal affairs of Ukraine condemned acts of vandalism at III Jewish cemetery in Odessa. The declaration reads as this: those, who did these actions dishonor Ukraine as a hospitable home for representatives of all peoples and ethnic groups, where there’s no place for anti-Semitism and other forms of xenophobia”.
USA appealed to Ukraine to conduct intensive and quick investigation of acts of vandalism in regard to Jewish monuments in Odessa and to bring guilty persons to court. This was declared in the Embassy of USA in Ukraine.
The Embassy expresses anxiety with violation of 302 graves at III Jewish cemetery in Odessa, where thousands of Holocaust victims were buried, and at the memorial of victims of fascism. “These acts of vandalism, moved with hate, are disgusting and are not to have place in this tolerant society, as Ukrainian society is”, - it was said in the message of diplomatic mission.
At the same time the embassy approves activity of mayor of Odessa Eduard Gurvitz relatively reconstructive works at the cemetery and call on authorities of the city to take measures for non-admittance of such cases in future.
Council of Jewish communities of Odessa demands to reconsider the article of accusation in “matter about vandalism” as fomentation of interethnic discord”. The council made a correspondent appeal to head of security service of Ukraine in Odessa region, General Prosecutor of Ukraine and also to Speaker, President and Prime-minister. Regional council supported the appeal of Jewish communities of Odessa.
In his turn, mayor of Odessa, Eduard Gurvitz named violation of monument an indignant act, offense of all nationalities, representatives of which live in Odessa, and promised that vandalism will not remain unpunished.
Students of Jewish University wash off gravestones
On Thursday, 22 February 15 students of Jewish University worked at III Jewish cemetery, they tried to wash off swastikas, painted at gravestones. According to words of young people, the work is complicated with cold and also the paint takes a lot of time to be eliminated. Young people used terebenthene, stripper, then you have to wash it with warm water with soap or powder. Cemetery workers consider that in case if the paint soaked up deeply, it would be necessary to use sandblasting device.
65045, Odessa, Evrejskaja st., 25