Police arrest, then release 53 protesters against Hasidic pilgrimage to Uman

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Sept. 26, 2011, 2:29 p.m. | Ukraine — by Interfax-Ukraine

Riot police detain activists of Ukraine's nationalist party Svoboda (Liberty) during a rally of protest against pilgrimage of Hassidic Jews in the town of Uman, 200 kilometers (125 miles) south of Ukraine's capital Kiev, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2011.
© AP

The police arrested and later released 53 participants of a court-banned rally "Uman without Hasidim" by Ukrainian nationalists in Uman, Cherkasy region. Representatives of the Svoboda All-Ukrainian Union hung banners and chanted slogans against Hasidic pilgrims who arrived in Uman to visit the grave of their spiritual leader, the Public Relations Department of the Ukrainian Interior Ministry reported on Monday.

"The organizers of the event, knowing that the rally was forbidden, did not take care of the safety of minors and provoked a conflict with police officers. After the rally the column went on the roadway creating a traffic hazard. They did not respond to repeated requests by the police to stop, and were shouting the slogan 'Uman without Hasidim'," the statement reads.

Law enforcers detained the protesters and seized three smoke grenades, five aerosol spray cans, slingshots, metal rods, knives, scissors, and ropes from the detainees, the police reported.

The police encircled representatives of the Svoboda All-Ukrainian Union, who gathered near the monuments to Ukraine's folk heroes Honta and Zalizniak on Sunday to stage a court-banned rally demanding stricter controls on Hasidic pilgrims coming to Uman.

Deputy Head of the union Andriy Ilienko and members of Svoboda factions in Uman City Council, and in Cherkasy Regional Council told the police that they were holding a meeting with voters.

However, after a while, the nationalists formed a column and started chanting: "Uman without Hasidim." Law enforcement officers surrounded them and put more than 50 people into police cars. After the charge sheets were drawn up, the detainees were released.

A burial site of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, the founder of the Breslov Hasidic movement, is located in Uman. Every Rosh Hashana, there is a major pilgrimage by tens of thousands of Hasidim from around the world to the grave of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov.

In fall of 2010, ten Hasidic pilgrims were deported back to Israel and banned from Ukraine for five years for disrupting public order and causing bodily harm to citizens.

Svoboda All-Ukrainian Union Leader Oleh Tiahnybok said earlier they demanded stricter legal and sanitary controls on Hasidic pilgrims. He also said that law-enforces should see that Hasidic pilgrims should respect the custom of local residents, observe their rights and prevent the breaches of public order by the pilgrims.
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