Ukraine's Jewish population looks to improved lives and access
Considering the disturbing rise in open anti-Semitism in Europe and now in Russia, this is certainly a heartening story on Ukrainian-Jewish relations from JTA. In addition, an earlier posted article on UT mentioned that Ariel Sharon had placed a personal call to Yushchenko, congratulation him on his victory and inviting him to Israel, at that time Yushchenko accepted and said he would be visiting "soon".
Here's some of the article:
Ukrainian Jews have high hopes that their nation's new president will bring real changes to this former Communist republic.
Like other Ukrainians, many of the country's estimated 200,000 to 500,000 Jews are banking on the promises of democracy, wealth and increased participation in international bodies made by Viktor Yuschenko in the days after he was sworn in earlier this month.
. . . "Yuschenko showed his direction toward turning Ukraine into a democratic European nation with full respect for freedom of speech and a fair judicial system," said Eduard Gurvitz, a Jewish member of Parliament and a longtime Yuschenko supporter.
. . . "The new president stretches out his hand of collaboration to all who want to shake it," said Alexander Feldman, a Jewish lawmaker and a prominent community leader who backed Yanukovich. "I do believe that Yuschenko's politics will be aimed at protecting the interethnic peace and concord in Ukraine. Otherwise we shall correct him. But today I have more hopes than fears."
Those Jews who share Yuschenko's Euro-focused vision of Ukraine have faith in his ability to make Ukraine a more prosperous nation.
. . .He added that a recent spate of anti-Semitic incidents in neighboring Russia, including an anti-Semitic letter signed by a group of Russian lawmakers, showed what Ukraine may have averted by defeating Yanukovich, who was backed by pro-Russian voters and the Kremlin.
"Today, we can better understand what Putin's Russia, which backed Yanukovich, really means," he said.
. . .On Jan. 27, addressing an audience in Krakow, Poland, where he traveled to participate in commemorations of the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, Yuschenko said, "I publicly swear that the so-called Jewish question will never be raised in Ukraine."
Meanwhile, some of the first appointments in Yuschenko's administration suggests that politicians of Jewish descent may be as powerful during his presidency as others were during Kuchma's reign.
Yevgeny Chervonenko, another Jewish lawmaker and a close aide to Yuschenko, is expected to be appointed to a key post in the new government. Chervonenko, 45, is also vice president of the United Jewish Community of Ukraine, an umbrella group.
Another public personality with Jewish ancestry already has been appointed secretary of the Council for National Security and Defense. Pyotr Poroshenko, a member of the Parliament, a financier and media magnate, has never publicized his Jewish background but it is known to many in the Jewish community.
There is a possible pitfall, however. Now that expectations have been raised, they can be dashed if improvements do not follow.
"Now people will simply not allow the authorities to treat them as before," said Semyon Gluzman, head of the Ukrainian-American Bureau for Human Rights in Kiev. "The only thing I'm afraid of is the disappointment of people."
But for now, optimism seems to be prevailing.
"We ourselves must help Yuschenko and his team to change our lives for the better," Gluzman said.