(JTA) — Police in Crimea, a territory that Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014, are investigating the desecration by robbers of a mass grave of Holocaust victims near the city of Simferopol.
The investigation opened Tuesday following the unauthorized exhumations performed last week at the site of a firing trench, where Nazis and their collaborators killed hundreds of Jews, the TASS news agency reported.
“A local resident saw at night strangers digging and immediately informed us,” Anatoly Gendin, head of the Association of Jewish Organizations and Communities of Crimea, told the news agency. His organization also complained to police about the dig, which he said were likely the work of robbers looking for precious items.
The incident, the second case of its kind in five years in Crimea, came amid preparations for enclosing burial sites whose locations are known with concrete enclosures.
“There is a preliminary decision of the Crimea State Committee and Jewish community organizations on setting up concrete enclosures and establish there a surveillance system,” Grigory Ioffe, a deputy speaker of the parliament of Crimea, which is one of Russia’s semi-autonomous regions, told TASS.
Almost all of Simferopol’s Jews were shot to death. Many of the victims had been betrayed to the Germans by the local population.