The pro-Russian separatist leader of Donetsk, whose alleged signature is on the now notorious fliers calling on the eastern Ukrainian city's Jews to register on pain of deportation, said the documents were fakes, the ThinkProgress website reported Thursday.
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Some idiots yesterday were giving out these fliers in targeted areas, said Denis Pushlin, head of the self-proclaimed People's Republic of Donetsk, whose forces have taken over Ukrainian government buildings in the city. Pushlin said he didn't sign the documents and the People's Republic, whose name is stamped on the fliers, didn't produce them.
Meanwhile, the Anti-Defamation League said it was "skeptical about the authenticity" of the fliers, which have been widely reported and accepted as authentic, including by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who denounced them as "grotesque."
Also, Julia Ioffe, who covers Russia for The New Republic, wrote: "The Donetsk Jewish community dismissed [the fliers] as 'a provocation,' which it clearly is. 'It's an obvious provocation designed to get this exact response, going all the way up to Kerry,' says Fyodr Lukyanov, editor of Russia in Global Affairs. 'I have no doubt that there is a sizeable community of anti-Semites on both sides of the barricades, but for one of them to do something this stupid — this is done to compromise the pro-Russian groups in the east.'"
According to the original report from Novosti Donbassa news agency, the fliers were handed out by three men wearing balaclavas and carrying Russian Federation flags on Monday, Passover eve, to Jews leaving synagogue in Donetsk.
The fliers order 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."
Donetsk's Jewish population numbers upwards of 15,000.