Three Jews Among Those Killed in Ukraine Uprising

Far Right Pays Tribute at Jewish Victim's Funeral

Far right wing gunmen and Ukrainian policemen at the funeral of Alexander Scherbanyuk.
courtesy of Vyacheslav A. Likhachev
Far right wing gunmen and Ukrainian policemen at the funeral of Alexander Scherbanyuk.

By Paul Berger

Published March 18, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

Balaclava-clad far-right paramilitaries fire into the air at the funeral in Ukraine of an anti-government protestor. This is not a tribute to a fellow right-wing nationalist, but to a Jewish construction worker, Alexander Scherbanyuk.

Of the approximately 100 people killed during the protests in Kiev that swept Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich from power in February, three were Jews, according to Vyacheslav Likhachev, a Ukrainian anti-Semitism expert.

Scherbanyuk, 46, a construction worker and political activist from Chernivtsi, was killed by sniper fire on February 20.

Alexander Shcherbanyuk
courtesy of Vyacheslav A. Likhachev
Alexander Shcherbanyuk

The same day, snipers in Kiev killed two more Jewish anti-government protesters, Josef Shiling, a 61-year-old construction worker from Drogobych and Evgeniy Kotlyar, a 33-year old ecological activist from Kharkiv. Each of the three men, whom the Ukrainians consider as martyrs to their revolution, were known by their local Jewish communities, Likachev said.

Scherbanyuk “was buried with a gas mask, a hardhat, and a kippah,” Likhachev wrote on the website of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress.

The inclusion of a far right group, Right Sector, at Scherbanyuk’s funeral in Chernivtsi on February 23, underlines the diversity of the Ukrainian revolution.

It also shows how Jews and right-wing nationalists get along in today’s Ukraine.

Right Sector is an umbrella organization that represents many groups, including the Neo Nazi Social-National Assembly, Likhachev said. But other paramilitary groups that included Jews also fought under the Right Sector umbrella, he said.

David Fishman, an expert on the former Soviet Union at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, said that the experience of fighting alongside Jews may have had an effect on the Right Sector’s language towards Jews.

Evgeniy Kotlyar
courtesy of Vyacheslav A. Likhachev
Evgeniy Kotlyar

Right Sector’s leader, Dmitry Yarosh, recently met with the Israel’s ambassador to Ukraine to allay concerns and to pledge to fight racism and anti-Semitism in Ukraine.

“They speak the language of force, they speak the language of violence,” said Fishman. “What’s interesting is that they are not speaking the language of anti-Semitism.”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • Before there was 'Homeland,' there was 'Prisoners of War.' And before there was Claire Danes, there was Adi Ezroni. Share this with 'Homeland' fans!
  • BREAKING: Was an Israeli soldier just kidnapped in Gaza? Hamas' military wing says yes.
  • What's a "telegenically dead" Palestinian?
  • 13 Israeli soldiers die in Gaza — the deadliest day for the IDF in decades. So much for 'precision' strikes and easy exit strategies.
  • What do a Southern staple like okra and an Israeli favorite like tahini have in common? New Orleans chef Alon Shaya brings sabra tastes to the Big Easy.
  • The Cossacks were a feature in every European Jewish kid's worst nightmare. Tuvia Tenenbom went looking for the real-life variety in Ukraine — but you won't believe what he found. http://forward.com/articles/202181/my-hunt-for-the-cossacks-in-ukraine/?
  • French Jews were stunned when an anti-Israel mob besieged a synagogue outside Paris. What happened next could be a historic turning point.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.