John Kerry
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Photo by AP
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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Thursday that Jews in a city in eastern Ukraine had been ordered to register with the authorities, calling the idea intolerable.

"Just in the last couple of days, notices were sent to Jews in one city indicating that they had to identify themselves as Jews ... or suffer the consequences," Kerry told reporters.

"This is not just intolerable, it's grotesque."

A notice ordering all Jews in the eastern Ukraine city of Donetsk to register with the pro-Russian separatists or face deportation was pasted near the local synagogue, according to the Novosti Donbassa news agency.

According to the report, the notice was distributed by "three unidentified men wearing balaclavas and carrying the flag of the Russian Federation." The notice was reported by members of the Jewish community of Donetsk.

Novosti Donbassa speculated that the men involved were provocateurs who "tried to provoke a conflict, then to blame the attack on separatists."

The notice apparently bore the stamps of the self-proclaimed People's Republic of Donetsk and was signed by its self-styled people's governor Denis Pushilin.

It orders all Jews over the age of 16 to register at the government building, which has been occupied by pro-Russian insurgents in defiance of Kiev rule. Jews would also have to pay a registration fee of $50 before May 3 and list all real estate and vehicles owned.

The notice explained the measure as being due to the alleged support of Jewish leaders for the "nationalist junta of [Stepan] Bandera in Kiev" and their hostility "to the Orthodox Donetsk republic and its citizens."

Failure to register, the notice said, would result in people being "stripped of their citizenship and deported forcibly outside the country with confiscation of property."