Jews fleeing Ukraine arrive in Israel, recount assaults by pro-Russian rebels

( Two Jewish refugees who say they endured torture by pro-Russian rebels in Eastern Ukraine arrived in Israel after making aliyah on Wednesday.

Pro-Russian separatists have been controlling parts of eastern Ukraine, including Donetsk, since 2014. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Lawyer Roman Makria, 25, his girlfriend Sasha Malinka, and a man from Donetsk who identified himself as “D” joined more than 7,000 Ukrainian-Jewish refugees who have moved to Israel since the beginning of the Ukrainian conflict in November 2013.

Makria recounted how he was kidnapped by rebels and interrogated on suspicion of espionage. “In May 2014, a couple of thugs came to our offices and took me away. They interrogated me over the course of two days, all the while threatening to kill me, and then let me go. [Afterward,] I got fired from work because they didn’t want to be involved with all this and the thugs had told them I was a spy,” he said, the Jerusalem Post reported.

“After I was released, we fled to Kiev. We couldn’t stay in Donetsk any longer. Every day, rockets fell, there was gunfire. Many of my friends and acquaintances were shot, wounded or killed. When I got to Kiev, I found work. But I wasn’t able to make more than $120 a month. The rent in Kiev alone is three times more than I’m used to paying. It’s impossible to live there making so little. ... I have nothing to go back to. The minute you flee your home, the Russian rebels move in,” added Makria. 

Subsequently, the couple “decided to make aliyah and to begin a new, normal life here,” he said.

“D” recalled how rebels “broke into my house, put a sack on my head, beat me up and broke my jaw with the butt of their rifle.”

“I was terrified. They were Russian. They brought me to a cellar, I’m not sure where. They put a grenade in my hand and told me that if I didn’t give them the information they were looking for, then they would chop my head off. At a certain point, I lost consciousness. A day later, I woke up in a hospital in Dontesk; surgeons were hovering above, repairing my jaw,” he said.

Both men expressed concern over family members they were forced to leave behind in Ukraine.

Posted on July 2, 2015 .