MOSCOW (AP) — Ukrainian prosecutors opened a probe Wednesday into an attack on an important Jewish pilgrimage site in a central Ukrainian town, the second attack in as many years.
Tens of thousands of pilgrims visit the grave of revered Hasidic Rabbi Reb Nachman of Bratslav in the town of Uman, south of Kiev, every year.
Rabbi Yisrael Elhadad of the Uman synagogue said on Ukraine 112 television channel that a group of ultra-nationalists stormed into the synagogue before dawn on Wednesday, tear gassed the pilgrims who were praying there, splashed fake blood on the walls and dumped a pig's head on the floor.
The office of Prosecutor General Yuri Lutsenko said he has personally taken control of the case and instructed local prosecutors to make it a priority. Ukraine's acting police chief Vadym Troyan said the criminals would face eight years of prison if caught and convicted.
The latest attack has echoed with the Oct. 2015 destruction by Ukrainian nationalists of a tent city for the annual Rosh Hashanah pilgrimage to the gravesite.
Russia's chief rabbi Berl Lazar in comments to the Tass news agency described the attack as a "disgusting crime" and blamed Ukraine's law enforcement agencies for condoning ultra-nationalists.