A genuine threat along the lines of what the Nazis imposed on Ukrainian Jews, or a scare tactic? Either way, leaflets handed out to Jews earlier this week in eastern Ukraine led some U.S. officials to use the word "chilling."
ANCHOR: "Masked men confronted worshippers leaving a synagogue. The leaflets say that Jews must register with the government and pay a $50 fee. If they refuse, they'll be kicked out of the country." (Via Fox News)
The contents of the leaflets are now widely distributed after Jewish organizations and the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine got their hands on them. They were originally handed out in Donetsk, which is only about 60 miles from the Russian border. (Via The Coordination Forum For Countering Antisemitism)
It reads in part, "All citizens of Jewish descent, over 16 years of age and residing within the republic's territory are required to report to the Commissioner for Nationalities in the Donetsk Regional Administration building and register." (Via The Wire)
The leaflet also tells Jewish residents they'll need to list all real estate and vehicles they own. But who's handing them out? Pro-Russian separatists or someone trying to make them look bad?
GEOFFREY PYATT, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: "Everything that we are hearing suggests that this is the real deal and that it is apparently coming from somebody on the ground there among these radical groups." (Via CNN)
Later in that interview is when U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt called the leaflets chilling and clearly meant to either stir fear or provoke fights that would justify more violence. After all, the men handing out the leaflets were wearing masks just like pro-Russian militants throughout the eastern part of Ukraine.
The Daily Beast reports the leader of the separatists whose name was on the leaflets denied having anything to do with them.
The New York Times adds Jews in eastern Ukraine are deeply distrustful of Russia getting more involved in their region, and they reacted negatively when Putin insinuated he might have to use military force to protect Jews.
Last week, The Times reported representatives of more than 20 Jewish organizations wrote an open letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin saying Russian security forces encourage neo-Nazi activity.
Diplomats meeting in Switzerland Thursday issued a statement aimed at de-escalating tensions in Ukraine. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the diplomats unanimously condemned anti-Semitism.