Ukraine has decided peremptorily to prevent the pilgrimage of Breslav chasidim to Uman by closing its borders until the end of September. A number of Breslav chasidim decided to try and preempt the closure -due to start on the 29th of August – by leaving immediately on a flight to Ukraine. However, the Ukrainian government was unimpressed and refused the chasidim entry to the country.
Chasidim stranded at the airport report that they are being treated like hostages and are being forced to sign documents that will require them to return immediately to Israel. In the meantime, they have been forced to stay in the airport in harsh conditions.
Breslav Chasidim are not sure whether to blame Israeli prime minister Netanyahu- who reportedly warned the Ukrainians to restrict the number of people entering, although the prime ministers’ office has denied this – or coronavirus project manager Ronny Gamzu who allegedly wrote a letter to the Ukrainian president warning of the consequences of a mass assembly at Uman. An ad-hoc protest against Netanyahu, who is currently vacationing in Tzfat, took place Thursday.
One Breslav chasid wrote that “we are shocked and distraught that families which wanted to reach Uman before the 29th of August when the borders will be closed to air traffic and who bought tickets for full money and arrived in Kiev are being arrested there for the crime of being chasidim. At present they are detained and have been told that they will be returned to Israel by 5 PM tomorrow.”