Ukrainian Jews worry over creation of anti-Semitic party

Ukraine's Jewish groups voiced their concern Wednesday over the creation of a political party that expresses anti-Semitic views.

The Ukrainian Justice Ministry last month registered the Ukrainian Conservative party, which openly vowed it will stand against Zionism and fascism.

The party wants to restore the statement of citizens' ethnicity in Ukrainian passports, a practice his practice facilitated discrimination against Jews in the ex-Soviet Union.

The party is led by Heorhiy Shchyokin, head of the Kiev-based International Academy of Personnel Management, which teaches some 35,000 students.

Illya Levitas, the head of Ukraine's Jewish Council, accused Shchyokin on Wednesday of "boosting anti-Jewish hysteria," and "sowing seeds of ethnic discord, which is incompatible with the principles of democracy."

In an earlier statement, the Moscow-based Union of Councils for Jews in the former Soviet Union accused Shchyokin of turning his academy "into the leading publishing center of anti-Semitic literature in Ukraine."

Jewish groups have expressed concerns that as an officially registered organization, the Ukrainian Conservative Party can participate in next year's parliamentary vote and "spread its propaganda in campaign commercials."

Most Ukrainian media criticized at Shchyokin's party earlier this week, describing it as the Ukrainian Ku Klux Klan, an apparent reference to his alleged links with David Duke, the former leader of the American white supremacist group.

Shchyokin and his associates were unavailable for immediate comments on Wednesday.

Last month, Ukrainian Jewish groups criticized President Viktor Yushchenko's decision to honor a newspaper that was censored by a court last year for inciting anti-Semitism - a gesture widely seen as gratitude for the paper's role as the country's main opposition newspaper during former President Leonid Kuchma's 10-year rule.

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