What are we to make of this? The Czech-based Roma website Romea.cz cites a report on German news agency Die Welt about an April 22 attack on Roma homes in the eastern Ukraine town of Slavyansk by pro-Russian separatists, who reportedly menaced residents at gunpoint, broke windows and fired shots, demanded gold and money, and voiced their intention to "purge" the area of "gypsies." Die Welt's own account only seems to be online (at least in English) at the aggregator WorldCrunch. More mysteriously, the Romea.cz account quotes a local resident named Natasha Cherepovska describing the attack to the New York Times—yet a Google search for the name or the text of the quote brings up no New York Times story. The report is all too plausible, given the attacks on Tatars in the Crimea since the Russian seizure of the peninsula. But we note that there have apparently been attacks on Jews in eastern Ukraine both organized by pro-Russian agents to tar the Ukrainians and by Ukrainian agents to tar the pro-Russians. In other words, a completely murky, paranoid and poisonous atmosphere. We await more information on what happened in Slavyansk, and call upon Romea.cz to provide greater clarity—especially on the source of the cited Times story.
Russian press account on Ukraine Roma attacks
A previous report on Romea.cz, dated April 19, notes earlier attacks on Roma in Slavyansk, and links to Russian-language news site Novosti Donbasu. In this earlier incident, Roma residents, including women and children, were reportedly beaten by armed thugs identified as pro-Russian separatists. A report on Ukrainian Policy also cites Russian-language sources, and says the attacks have been "confirmed" by Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk. It renders the name of the town as "Sloviansk."
European Roma Rights Centre on Ukraine violence
The Budapest-based European Roma Rights Centre and allied organizations have issued a "Joint Statement on Violence Against Roma in Ukraine," noting the incidents in Slaviansk, as well as a similar attack in Cherkassy April 29, in which a home was set on fire. The statement only blames "non-Roma residents," not making clear if the attacks were carried out by pro-Russian separatists, as claimed by the above media accounts.