Weekly Top 10
WASHINGTON, D.C. June 22, 2018

TO: NCSEJ Leadership and Interested Parties

FROM: Daniel Rubin, Chairman;
Alexander Smukler, President;
Mark B. Levin, Executive Vice-Chairman & CEO

Dear Friend,

It appears that White House and Kremlin officials are laying the groundwork for a summit between President Trump and President Putin sometime next month. National security advisor John Bolton will travel to Moscow next week to discuss a potential meeting. The update this week includes articles on the summit, and on U.S.-Russia ties. We will keep you informed as the story unfolds.

Meanwhile in Ukraine, the presidential race is beginning to heat up. Former Prime Minister and current opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko has announced her candidacy for president, challenging incumbent President Petro Poroshenko. The elections are scheduled for March 31 of next year.

The update also includes a Washington Post op-ed by President Poroshenko titled "My goal is to defeat corruption in Ukraine." In it, he lays out his efforts to fight ongoing government corruption, including the establishment of an anti-corruption court and rules requiring politicians to declare assets.

Lastly, I encourage you to download NCSEJ's latest annual report. You can access it by visiting  NCSEJ's website, or click here to download a copy directly.

Mark B. Levin
NCSEJ Executive Vice-Chairman & CEO
Washington, D.C. June 22, 2018

Ukraine’s Got a Real Problem with Far-Right Violence (And No, RT Didn’t Write This Headline)
By Josh Cohen
Atlantic Council, June 20, 2018

It sounds like the stuff of Kremlin propaganda, but it’s not. Last week Hromadske Radio revealed that Ukraine's Ministry of Youth and Sports is funding the neo-Nazi group C14 to promote "national patriotic education projects" in the country. On June 8, the Ministry announced that it will award C14 a little less than $17,000 for a children’s camp. It also awarded funds to Holosiyiv Hideout and Educational Assembly, both of which have links to the far-right. The revelation represents a dangerous example of law enforcement tacitly accepting or even encouraging the increasing lawlessness of far-right groups willing to use violence against those they don't like.

Since the beginning of 2018, C14 and other far-right groups such as the Azov-affiliated National Militia, Right Sector, Karpatska Sich, and others have attacked Roma groups several times, as well as anti-fascist demonstrations, city council meetings, an event hosted by Amnesty International, art exhibitions, LGBT events, and environmental activists. On March 8, violent groups launched attacks against International Women’s Day marchers in cities across Ukraine. In only a few of these cases did police do anything to prevent the attacks, and in some they even arrested peaceful demonstrators rather than the actual perpetrators.

After forging new ties with North Korea, Trump administration turns to Russia
By John Hudson, Greg Jaffe, Seung Min Kim and Josh Dawsey
Washington Post, June 15, 2018

Days after a historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the Trump administration is forging ahead with new engagements with another longtime adversary: Russia.

President Trump is expected to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin next month while he is in Europe for a NATO summit, according to a senior administration official and two diplomats familiar with his schedule. In a nod to those plans, Trump told reporters on Friday that “it’s possible” he would meet with Putin this summer.

Hanegbi: Polish-Israeli ties won’t recover until Holocaust law is revised
By Herb Keinon
Jerusalem Post, June 20, 2018

Israel-Poland ties will not return to normal until changes are made in a controversial Polish law making it illegal to say the Polish state or nation were complicit in the Holocaust, Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi said on Tuesday.

Though the law, which strained Israeli-Polish ties, went into effect on February 21, the court review is still underway, and it could be months before a judgment is rendered.

Despite Hanegbi’s comments that the law is hampering normal relations between the two countries, Israel on Monday signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the countries making up the Visegrad Group – Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia – on training cooperation in the field of innovation.

The worldwide work of saving cemeteries and honoring the Jewish dead
By Howard Blas
JNS, June 18, 2018

When Rabbi Shmuel Halpert, outgoing Knesset member of the haredi party Agudat Yisrael, invited Rabbi Isaac Schapira to a meeting in July 2011, Schapira’s life changed forever. He was convinced that he had to improve the situation for Jewish cemeteries worldwide, which were suffering from disrepair, neglect and vandalism from outside communities.

Schapira describes Halpert as a pioneer in fighting for the rescue of Jewish cemeteries. “I don’t know who will continue this fight. I think you and your connections are best-suited for it. Just dive in!” said Halpert.

And so, Schapira did just that…He has used resources, connections, bridge-building skills, determination and values that he learned from late father, Rabbi Avraham Schapira (Knesset member from the Agudat Israel party and chairman of the Knesset Finance Committee) to found the European Jewish Cemeteries Initiative.

My goal is to defeat corruption in Ukraine
By Petro Poroshenko
Washington Post, June 18, 2018

On June 7, Ukraine’s parliament passed long-awaited legislation establishing a special anti-corruption court. Our country took another important move forward on its path toward building a European state where all are equal under the law. This was not the first step in this journey, and it won’t be the last. But I believe it showed that our journey toward a genuine democracy is now irreversible.

Nobody would argue that our reform process has been easy. Over the past two decades, Ukrainians have become skeptical that there could be any progress in the fight against the scourge of corruption. Nevertheless, the Euromaidan Revolution of Dignity gave Ukrainians hope for a new future of accountable leaders and the rule of law.

Russia’s State Council: How Putin could stay in power
By Dmitry Kartsev, translation by Kevin Rothrock
Meduza.io, June 18, 2018

Several Russian news outlets have reported that Alexander Kharichev could take over as head of the State Council’s operations office. Kharichev is considered a close associate of Sergey Kiriyenko, who oversees the Kremlin’s domestic policy. Kiriyenko’s authority has grown in the Putin administration since he orchestrated the president’s successful re-election this March, and some experts now believe that he has been tasked with preparing options to keep Putin in power after 2024, when the president's current term expires.

The State Council could play an important role in this scheme, if Putin were to take charge of the group and make it Russia’s most powerful government agency. Meduza reviews what the State Council is and how these rumors about its future got started.

Russia seeks to force out foreign rabbis as ‘national security threat’
By Victoria Loguinova-Yakovleva
AFP, June 19, 2018

MOSCOW, Russia – For the past three months, Asher Krichevsky, Siberia’s chief rabbi, has been battling to stay in the country after Russian authorities accused the Israeli citizen of attempting to overthrow the state.

Russia has recently stepped up expulsions of believers and missionaries from Christian denominations that originated abroad such as Mormons, Pentecostal Christians and Jehovah’s Witnesses.

But it is also focusing on foreign rabbis, despite Judaism being legally recognized in the secular state as having historic roots in Russia, along with Christianity, Islam and Buddhism.

After a President’s Shocking Death, a Suspicious Twin Reshapes a Nation
By Marc Santora
New York Times, June 16, 2018

WARSAW — For six weeks, Jaroslaw Kaczynski kept up the charade. By day, he appeared at political rallies, campaigning in mourning clothes as a stand-in for his twin brother, Lech, who had been running for a new term as Poland’s president before he died in a shocking plane crash over the Russian city of Smolensk in 2010.

By night, he took off his black tie, went to the bedside of his ailing mother and told her lies....Only after Lech was buried and his mother had recovered did Jaroslaw Kaczynski tell her what had really happened....

Eight years later, Mr. Kaczynski is the dominant political figure in Poland, an enigmatic man operating mostly in the shadows. His Law and Justice party has eroded democratic freedoms and weakened the rule of law in Poland, while pushing the country into an increasingly acrimonious dispute with the European Union.

Ukraine's Tymoshenko Announces Presidential Run
RFE/RL, June 20, 2018

Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko says she plans to run for president in 2019, setting up a possible showdown with incumbent Petro Poroshenko.

In a video conference on her Facebook page on June 20, Tymoshenko said she will run for the presidency "not just to play an authoritarian game…but to lift Ukraine back on its feet."

"The presidential office for me is not a PlayStation, but a place to introduce real changes our country has been longing for," said Tymoshenko, who is leader of Ukraine's opposition Batkivshchyna (Fatherland) party..

White House, Kremlin officials lay plans for Trump-Putin summit
By David M. Jackson
USA Today, June 21, 2018

WASHINGTON — Plans for the first formal summit between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin are taking shape as senior White House aide John Bolton heads to Moscow later this month for meetings with his Kremlin counterparts.

The potential meeting is already drawing attacks from critics who say Trump is overly solicitous of Putin in the wake of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election and Trump's ongoing disputes with G-7 and NATO allies over trade and defense policy.

This would be the first stand-alone summit for Trump and Putin; the two held less formal meetings last year on the sideline of economic conferences in Germany and in Vietnam.

[Link to pdf of full articles]
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Founded in 1971, the National Coalition Supporting Eurasian Jewry represents the organized American Jewish community in monitoring and advocating on behalf of the estimated 1.5 million Jews in Eastern Europe and Eurasia, including the 15 successor states of the former Soviet Union.