Why the authorities work side by side with Judaists?


When we hear that human rights, in particular, religious freedom, is observed in Ukraine, we feel doubt. In the beginning of February of the current year a group of Jews from Dnepropetrovsk, having prepared all the needed documents, turned to the Dnepropetrovsk oblast administration with the request to register the Dnepropetrovsk religious community of progressive Judaism. Since the moment of handing the documents for registration the members of our community underwent various forms of pressure with the aim to prevent the registration or to postpone it as long as possible.

B. Volodarskiy, the head of our community, who, on behalf of all, made the needed procedural steps, suffered the attacks from the US citizen, Shmuel Kaminetskiy, the rabbi of the religious community Habad, as well as other members of this community: Aleksandr Fridkis, Semen Sokol, Mikhail Karshenbuam and others. In their telephone calls and personally they asked and demanded to immediately stop the registration procedure. Strangers threatened Volodarskiy and his family by phone. Since April Volodarskiy, without any reasons, is persecuted by the city militia department for struggle with the organized crime. Somewhat later the city militia department in charge of passports and migration, without any explanations, confiscated his passport that has not been returned by now. In the small hours of the morning of 30 April some strangers put on fire Volodarskiy’s house, but the fire was extinguished. At 10 a.m. on 30 April some voice warned Volodarskiy by phone that, if the community did not stop its activities, the house would be burnt down.

On 28 April 2001 N. Shvets, the head of the Dnepropetrovsk oblast administration, signed at last the decision about the registration in Dnepropetrovsk of the religious community of progressive Judaism. We were informed about this decision by the department in charge of religious on 4 May 2001.

They told us our registration number (176-p) and promised that in the afternoon of 7 May they will hand us all the registration documents after fulfilling needed technical procedures.

On 7 May about noon we requested the department clerk about our documents. Having learned that the document were prepared, the group of members of our community accompanied by a photographer came there at 2 p.m. However, the documents were given to us. N. Pogrebniak and A. Severin, the clerks of the religion department refused to hand us the documents. They explained that their head O.Zabegaylo was on leave and they could not do this without him. O.Zabegaylo returned from his leave a month ago, but up to now neither he, nor anyone of his clerks have explained the situation to us.

We turned to N. Shvets, the head of the Dnepropetrovsk oblast administration, on 22 May, but still have not any response. The clerks of the religion department avoid to meet us. Our complaint to the State committee of Ukraine on charge of religion has not been answered and has not given any results. We can only guess about the real reasons of the situation. But in any case we regard what happens as an arbitrary actions of bureaucrats, trampling our right for the freedom of consciousness and our civil rights in general.

On behalf of our community we turn to you with the request to help us to join public Jewish organizations of local, all-Ukrainian and international levels, which will be useful for our city.

The appeal is signed by 8 persons

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