Jewish group cuts funding for Kiev office

An organization representing Russian-speaking Jews cut funding for its Kiev office because of the office head’s criticism of Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

The Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, or EAJC, stopped funding its Kiev office in February, said Josef Zissels, chair of the Vaad Association of Jewish Organizations and Communities of Ukraine and a vice president of the World Jewish Congress.

“I don’t know for sure why they stopped the funding, but I think it may be connected to my statements on Russia,” he said.

EAJC, founded in 2002 by Jewish leaders from Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan, confirmed in a statement last week that the freeze was because of Zissels’ politics.

Zissels was outspoken against Russia’s actions in Ukraine, including its annexation on March 18 of the Crimea Peninsula from Ukraine. Earlier that month, Zissels was among the co-signers of a highly critical open letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin, accusing him of disingenuously manipulating concerns about anti-Semitism to justify Russia’s actions.

Zissels would not say how much money was cut, citing confidentiality issues. He also alleged that EAJC decided on the move “because many of its leaders have huge business interests in Russia.” — jta