Calls to protect Babi Yar Nazi victims’ memorial after swastika vandalism

Kiev cadets during the memorial ceremony "Thank You for Life" at the site of massacres of civilians by fascists in Babi Yar. The event marks the 70th anniversary of Ukraine's liberation from the Nazi occupation during WWII. (RIA Novosti/Evgeny Kotenko)
Curators of the Babi Yar Holocaust memorial have urged Ukraine’s Interior Ministry and Kiev police for help after a swastika was drawn in the latest act of vandalism at the place where about 100,000 people were killed during War World II.

On Friday, employees found a sprayed swastika on a memory stone which is a part of the Babi Yar memorial complex.

Babi Yar, a ravine in Kiev, is the site of one of the worst massacres in World War II, at a Nazi concentration camp. The number of people killed there is estimated at between 100,000 and 150,000, according to different sources. The main victims were Jews, Soviet prisoners of war, Communists and Gypsies. On 29 and 30 September 1941 alone, over 33,000 Jews were murdered there.

The memorial has seen numerous cases of vandalism in recent months, according to its director, Boris Glazunov. On January 26, four Molotov cocktails were pelted at a church in Babi Yar. No one was injured, but the building was damaged.

Last year, swastikas were repeatedly daubed on the memorial.

“The national memorial has repeatedly addressed the Interior Ministry and Kiev police for the authorities to help install surveillance cameras and police posts to secure the monuments,” Glazunov said, RIA Novosti reported.

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Other organizations, such as the Jewish Forum of Ukraine, have joined the request. However, Glazunov says there has been so far no response from the authorities.

“We register the cases of vandalism, and constantly monitor the site, but nothing changes,” Glazunov said. “Police are just not coping with the task, it appears. But we hope the time has come to tackle the issue.”

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According to Arkadiy Monastyrsky, the president of the Jewish Forum of Ukraine, such acts usually are observed on the eve of the Babi Yar victims’ Memorial Day, September 29, and Holocaust Victims’ Memorial Day, January 27.