Russian media and officials have been portraying Ukraine as a hotbed of far-right extremism, including anti-Semitism, ever since former President Viktor Yanukovych was removed from power at the end of February.
In his first public reaction to Mr Yanukovych’s downfall, President Vladimir Putin told journalists on 4 March: “We see the rampage of reactionary forces, nationalist and anti-Semitic forces going on in certain parts of Ukraine, including Kiev.”
He used similar language in his speech declaring the annexation of Crimea two weeks later, when he said that the “coup” against Mr Yanukovych was the work of “nationalists, neo-Nazis, Russophobes and anti-Semites”.
The Association of Jewish Organisations and Communities (VAAD) of Ukraine responded with an open letter saying that President Putin’s assertions about the rise of anti-Semitism in their country “did not match reality”.
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