By Natalia Zinets
KIEV (Reuters) – The Israeli ambassador to Ukraine asked police on Thursday to find and punish people who left a red paint-spattered effigy of tycoon Ihor Kolomoisky, who holds a Ukrainian Jewish community leadership post, on the steps of the main synagogue in Kiev.
Kolomoisky, one of Ukraine’s richest men, is in the public eye over his business ties to President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who came to fame as the star of TV show on a channel Kolomoisky owns. The tycoon has been in a protracted legal battle with the authorities over control of Urkaine’s biggest bank.
Kolomoisky is president of the United Jewish Community of Ukraine, one of several Jewish community bodies in the country.
“Another disturbing act of anti-Semitism … I hope that the law enforcement agencies will promptly arrest the perpetrators,” Joel Lion said in a statement on the embassy’s Twitter feed where a picture of the effigy was also published. The life-size effigy was dressed in dark trousers and a green sweater, covered by large red spots of paint.
“Ukraine has to do more to fight anti-Semitism, if not, violence will spread from effigies to human beings,” said the ambassador.
Kiev police told Reuters they had launched a criminal investigation over hooliganism but had not identified the people involved yet. They did not give additional details.
Kolomoisky did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment on the incident.
Last year rights groups Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Front Line Defenders and Freedom House wrote an open letter to the authorities under a previous government urging them to do more to tackle cases of attacks and intimidation of by radical groups.
Ukraine nationalised its largest lender PrivatBank in 2016 against the wishes of owner Kolomoisky and his business partner.
A court in Kiev on Thursday suspended hearing one of the cases brought by Kolomoisky to overturn the nationalisation.
The court was surrounded by dozens of protesters who support the nationalisation of the bank, and the court building was emptied at one point because of a bomb scare.
(Editing by Matthias Williams; Editing by Peter Graff)