There were reports of societal abuses and discrimination based on religious affiliation, belief, or practice. These included cases of anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim discrimination as well as discrimination and attacks against Christian denominations around the country and vandalism of religious property.
There were several reports of anti-Semitic acts of vandalism, including the desecration of Holocaust memorials in Kyiv and Nikopol, and the desecration of a synagogue in Mykolayiv.
Jewish community leaders said lack of attention from the authorities was an ongoing problem in investigating anti-Semitic incidents. One example was a 2012 attack that injured Gennady Frayerman, chairman of the local Chesed Osher Charitable Foundation and a leader of the local Jewish community in Rivne, that still remained unsolved at the end of the year.
On March 19, leaflets with anti-Semitic messages and bearing the Svoboda party logo were pasted on the Rosenberg Synagogue and Sholem Aleichem monument in Kyiv. On April 6, at an anti-government rally in Cherkasy, six young men wearing shirts emblazoned with the Svoboda logo and the phrase “beat the kikes” attacked and seriously injured a human rights activist. In both cases, Svoboda members of parliament claimed opponents had staged these incidents to discredit the party.
On July 28, a priest of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church officiated at a ceremony for the reburial of members of a Ukrainian unit of the Waffen SS, the Galicia Division, at Holohory village, Lviv Oblast. Several participants in the ceremony were dressed in Nazi SS uniforms.
In July vandals damaged more than a dozen tombstones at the Jewish cemetery in Pryluky, Chernihiv Oblast. Police opened an investigation. On August 20, Jewish community representatives saw swastikas on 17 tombstones at the same cemetery. The offenders have not yet been identified.
On October 29, several dozen activists from pro-Russian groups in Sevastopol protested against the construction of a Chabad synagogue in the city. Media quoted one of the rally’s organizers, Vladimir Tyunin, as stating that Chabad was a “hateful, Zionist sect.” The protesters also criticized efforts by a local Roman Catholic congregation to secure the restitution of the city’s former Roman Catholic Church building which the Soviet government had turned into a cinema.
On November 11, a spokesman of the Chief Rabbi of Sevastopol issued a statement expressing his concern over reported anti-Semitic activity by several groups including the Rus United Party, the Coordinating Council of Russian Organizations of Tavria and Sevastopol, the For United Rus Movement, the Union of the Russian People, and a group describing itself as the Black Sea Cossack Hundred.
Jewish community concerns about the continued existence of the Krakivskiy market in Lviv, located on the grounds of an ancient Jewish cemetery, remained unresolved.
There were some reports of desecration and arson against the Muslim community. On March 3, vandals desecrated the walls of the building of the Spiritual Directorate of Muslims of Crimea in Simferopol with a swastika and offensive graffiti.
The Spiritual Directorate of Muslims in Crimea suspected arsonists set fires at mosques in Saky October 13, and Rivne Village October 15. The Crimean Tatar Mejlis and local government condemned the attacks as a provocation designed to destabilize the region.
There were some reports of arson and vandalism at Christian churches as well as attacks on Christian citizens.
Jehovah’s Witnesses reported 24 cases of physical assault and 79 cases of vandalism and arson during the year.
On February 5, unidentified perpetrators set fire to the Kingdom Hall in Horlivka, Donetsk Oblast.
On February 28, vandals scratched “666” on the entrance door of the Jehovah’s Witnesses Kingdom Hall in Voznesensk, Mykolayiv Oblast, and placed tree branches in the form of a swastika on the ground near the building.
On November 25, Yevhen Ihlinskyi (a traffic police officer), Anatoliy Dovhan (a retired lieutenant colonel), and Ruslan Ivanov assaulted Oleksandr Anatoliovych Tretiak, a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses returning from religious services. The victim filed a report of attempted murder motivated by religious discrimination and named the police officer involved. During the 22 days he spent in the hospital, visitors threatened Mr. Tretiak on two separate occasions, demanding that he drop charges. In December the district court denied his request to transfer the investigation from the police to the prosecutor’s office because of alleged police involvement and a stalled investigation.
On March 27, unidentified vandals destroyed the statue of the Mother of God near a UGCC chapel in Zolotonosha, Cherkasy Oblast.
On April 16, a Roman Catholic nun was injured when an unidentified individual fired a pellet gun at a group of Roman Catholics praying at a site officially designated for construction of the St. Francis Church in Kyiv’s Obolon district. Police did not intervene when some local residents reported vandals were repeatedly disrupting preparations for the construction project. Representatives of the Roman Catholic Church in Kyiv complained about government inaction in response to vandalism at the site.
On August 25, unidentified arsonists set fire to the UOC-MP Church of Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, and John Chrysostom in Kyiv.
On December 3, unidentified vandals set fire to the UOC-KP Church of the Exaltation of the Cross in Yevpatoriya.
For the first time, Ukrainian Christians helped mark the Day of Judaism January 17, in Odesa. The Commission for Promoting Christian Unity of UGCC initiated the celebration, which was supported by Ordinary of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Odesa and Simferopol Bishop Bronislaw Bernacki, Exarch of Odesa and Crimea of the UGCC Bishop Vasyl (Ivasiuk), and the head of the German Evangelical Lutheran Church in Ukraine, Bishop Uland Spahlinger.
The Institute of Human Rights and Prevention of Extremism and Xenophobia hosted the third international Kyiv Interfaith Forum April 23-24. Representatives of Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, and Buddhist organizations attended. President Yanukovych welcomed their efforts to promote “tolerance and human values regardless of faith.”
On October 15-16, Ukraine, in its capacity as OSCE Chair, co-hosted with the Ukrainian Jewish Committee an international conference on anti-Semitism.