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Ukraine: Youths Attack Synagogue

Kyiv, 14 April 2002 (RFE/RL) -- About 50 youths attacked the central synagogue in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, beating worshippers with stones and bottles and destroying property. Kyiv's chief rabbi, Moshe-Reuven Azman, said the mob marched down the capital's main boulevard shouting "Kill the Jews!" before attacking the synagogue late yesterday.

However, police denied it was an anti-Semitic attack, saying it was a case of soccer-related hooliganism.

Azman said the youths knocked Tsvi Kaplan, rector of Kyiv's Jewish school, to the ground and beat him with stones. Kaplan was hospitalized overnight but was released today. Azman's 14-year-old son and a security guard also suffered injuries. Azman said the attackers broke 20 windows in the synagogue and called the act a pogrom.

Ukrainian police detained three Kyiv youths and started a investigation. The Interior Ministry said the attack was not motivated by anti-Semitism, but was an act of brutal hooliganism.