The anti-Semitic Ukrainian party Svoboda won 12.3 percent of the vote in Sunday’s parliamentary elections, making it clear that they will be well represented in Ukraine’s parliament. Several anti-Semitic attacks, such as the torching of synagogues, Jewish cultural centers and the desecration of Jewish cemeteries, have been linked to party members of Svoboda. In addition to their extreme nationalist and anti-Semitic positions, Svoboda also protests cooperation with Russia. Party leader Oleg Tyahnybok has been quoted as saying that Ukraine was being run by a “Muscovite-Jewish mafia” and that they need to “stop Jewish expansion.” He has also called for Ukraine to be purged of their Jewish population, as well as minorities. Svoboda has led protest rallies against Jews living in Uman, central Ukraine.
As a result of Svoboda’s gains in Ukrainian parliament, the European Jewish Association now is calling for protection of Ukrainian Jews. In a statement, Rabbi Menachem Margolin said, “We are not presuming of course, to interfere in internal Ukraine affairs and its voters’ decisions, however we are very concerned about the safety of Ukrainian Jews and are seeking to prevent expansion of anti-Semitism in Europe.”