Russia denies striking Ukrainian site of Hasidic Jewish pilgrimage

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LONDON – Russia denied on Wednesday a claim by Ukraine that it had struck the town of Uman, visited by tens of thousands of Hasidic Jews each year, and showed pictures of what it said were Ukrainian forces loading arms near a synagogue there.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy told Israeli lawmakers on March 20 that Russia had struck Uman on the first day of the invasion in February, according to a transcript of the speech supplied by The Times of Israel.

“I want to underscore that the Russian armed forces do not strike civilian targets as part of the special military operation,” Russian defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said of Zelenskiy’s remark.

Russia, Konashenkov said, had not hit any religious buildings or other places of public worship.

Tens of thousands of Hasidic Jews descend on Uman every Jewish New Year to visit the grave of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, who revived the Hasidic movement and died in 1810.

Konashenkov also showed March 21 pictures of what appeared to be Ukrainian forces loading arms near a synagogue in the town. Reuters was unable to independently verify the photographs.

Russia, he said, had struck fuel depots in eastern Ukraine with air-launched missiles and used tactical missiles to destroy two large rocket arsenals in eastern Ukraine.

“High-precision air-launched missiles destroyed large fuel depots in the Starokonstantinov and Khmelnitsky districts that supplied fuel for the armoured vehicles of Ukrainian troops in the Donbas,” Konashenkov said.

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