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Press by
The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Attacks on Roma Families in Slaviansk
5 years
Separatists Defiant, OSCE Committed
A Ukrainian journalist is reporting from Slaviansk that several Roma families have been beaten and robbed. Slaviansk is a town in south-eastern Ukraine that has been taken over by pro-Russian forces and already saw a scare last week over an antisemitic leaflet falsely purporting to require all Jews to register.

Nataliya Gumenyuk of reports on her Facebook page:

"In Slaviansk 5/6 houses of Romas were stormed and robbed by up till 20 armed men.Few female were beaten.They're still threatened. Verified. Talked to one of them."

She links in turn to a news report from  which The Interpreter has translated:

"Pogroms of the Roma have begun in Slaviansk, eyewitnesses report. Armed people are breaking into homes of Roma, beating them and robbing them regardless of sex or age. In particular, several women and children have been beaten. The assailants claim that they are acting on orders of the 'people's mayor' Vyacheslav Ponomarev. According to eye-witnesses, armed people are loading citizens' property into trucks. The information is being confirmed in Roma human rights organizations; now activists of the organizations are in the process of establishing the identity of those who committed the attacks."

We're waiting to get more details to confirm this report, although since Gumenyuk, a long-time reporter in this region, has spoken to one of the victims, we know at least an attack did take place.

The question is whether -- once again -- this could be a false attribution to the "Donetsk People's Republic," as the claim of the "people's governor" (not a title used) Denis Pushilin was made about the antisemitic leaflet, which he denied. Now we're hearing of a "people's mayor" -- also reportedly a title not used. As Time's Simon Shuster reported about the anti-semitic leaflets, the hate attacks could be more mundane extortion tactics by opportunists. Does the "Donetsk People's Republic" -- basically a gang that has taken over one building -- not have control of all its fighters?

Even so, racist posters have been discovered at the headquarters of the "Donetsk People's Republic," and we are now seeing yet another report of yet another minority attacked -- this one of the Roma the most serious to date with physical assault and robbery.

As Jews in Slaviansk explain to BBC reporter Natalia Anteleva, they are more afraid of Russia -- and by implication the forces allied with Russia -- than the European-leaning new authorities in Kiev.