Ukraine Police Accused of Evoking Nazi Invasion by Demanding Names and Addresses of Town's Jews

The head of an organization representing the Jewish community in Ukraine has expressed shock at a demand for the details of Jews who were living in a small town in the west of the country to be passed on to the police.

The letter was sent to the head of the several hundred-strong Jewish community, in Kolomyya, in the Ivano-Frankivsk province, around 250 miles west of Kyiv, said Eduard Dolinsky, director of the Kyiv-based Ukrainian Jewish Committee.

The missive, which was dated February 18, was shared on Twitter this week by Dolinsky, who says it asked for the names, addresses and phone numbers of those in the community, without specifying why.

"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," said a translation of the letter, written in Ukrainian.

Orthodox Jews
Orthodox Jews read from prayer books under a tree at the Umanka River on September 10, 2018 in Uman, Ukraine in this illustrative image. A senior Ukrainian policeman has been accused of “open antisemitism” after demanding the details of Jews in the town of Kolomyya. Sean Gallup/Getty Images

It was signed by by Myhaylo Bank, whom Haaretz described as a high-ranking officer in the national police force who handles organized crime.

Jacob Zalichker, who represents the town's Jewish community, refused to hand over the information, saying he would only do so if ordered to by the court, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Israel's ambassador to Kyiv, Joel Lion, addressed Ukraine's presidential office, ministry of foreign affairs and interior ministry, tweeting on Monday: "I received phone calls from the highest officials of Ukraine strongly condemning this act of Antisemitism."

"We will work together to better educate the police about antisemitism," Lion added.

Just after I brought this letter to the attention of @APUkraine, @MFA_Ukraine & @MVS_UA . I received phone calls from the highest officials of #Ukraine strongly condamning this act of #Antisemitism. We will work together to better educate Police about Antisemitism. 🇺🇦🤝🇮🇱

— Joel Lion (@ambassadorlion) May 11, 2020

Ukraine’s National Police department demanded from the Jewish community of Kolomiya to provide police the list of all Jews with addresses and mobile phones and Jewish students in universities with addresses and phones. It is explained as fight against transnational criminal gangs

— Eduard Dolinsky (@edolinsky) May 10, 2020

In an emailed statement to Newsweek, Dolinsky said: "I was shocked and couldn't believe it was happening," saying that the last time "something like this" had occurred was in 1941, when the "Nazis invaded Ukraine."

He also said that he has had no explanation yet from Ukraine's national police. "After my tweet and intervention of the Israeli Ambassador in Ukraine, they started an investigation. I was told that all police officials related to the letter were called to Kiev.

"We believe that there was a document behind this letter which they received from the centre. Everyone is already informed and we are waiting for an official explanation," Dolinsky said.

Newsweek has contacted Ukraine's national police and Israel's embassy in Kyiv, for further comment.

Estimates vary, but between 1 million and 1.5 million Jews were killed by German forces in Ukraine during World War II, according to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.