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Anti-Semitic leaflets were handed out at a synagogue in Donetsk, a city in southeast Ukraine, that appeared to have the signature of Denis Pushilin, the leader of a pro-Russian group there. However, the group and other pro-Russian groups have denied any involvement in the leaflets, which were widely decried on the web Thursday.
The leaflets told Jews that they must register or pay a fine in order to live in the city, notes The New York Times. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry even referred to the leaflets in Geneva on Thursday when a deal with Ukraine, Russia and EU was struck.
“This has nothing to do with us; it is a provocation,” Alexander Maltsev, a spokesman for Pushilin’s group, told the Times. Pushilin is the leader of the Donetsk People’s Republic, which is an unrecognized state representing the ethnically Russian people in that part of Ukraine.
Maltsev told the Times that he did not know who was behind these leaflets, which were addressed to the “Jews of Donetsk.”
According to the Wall Street Journal, the leaflets were delivered by three men in camouflage on Tuesday. They requested that any Jew over 16 go to a seized building to register or pay $50 “in connection with the fact that leaders of the Jewish community in Ukraine have been supporting the junta in Kiev.”
The WSJ reports that Pushilin himself appeared on local television to deny any involvement in the leaflets, noting the errors in them, adding, “And we have no antagonism toward Jews whatsoever.”
The group said that the leaflets were a sign that someone is trying to discredit their cause. They are calling for a referendum in their region to decide on separating from Kiev.