Pro-Russian separatists have engaged in seemingly racially motivated acts of looting and assault against Romani residents of Sloviansk, reports the News of Donbas. Armed separatists have reportedly begun a series of home invasions against the city’s Romani population, robbing and assaulting their victims. The militants apparently have shown no regard for age or gender, and women and children have been among the victims who were beaten According to eyewitnesses, the gunmen carried off stolen property in trucks.
The perpetrators claim that they are acting on the orders of the self-described ‘People’s Mayor’ and leader of the separatist militant wing, Vyacheslav Ponomarev.
The attacks on Romani, also known as Gypsies, follows a troubling precedent set the day prior when members of the Donetsk Republic organization distributed anti-Semitic leaflets in an attempt to extort and intimidate members of the Jewish community. Ponomarev has also announced a “hunt” on the Ukrainian speaking population of Sloviansk, wherein those who speak the indigenous language be treated as suspicious and reported to the local militia.