Ukraine Investigates Israeli MK Yakov Margi For Visiting Crimea

MK Yakov Margi (Shas) got into trouble following a visit he paid to the Russian occupied territory of Crimea in the Ukraine. Margi, met with the leader of the Russian puppet government, President of the Republic of Crimea, Sergey Aksyonov.

The meeting took place last week on Wednesday in Crimea and according to the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s office was in violation of Ukrainian law. The Prosecutor General has since opened an investigation against Margi.

The Prosecutor General issued a statement which said that Margi visited the province and brought evidence that the police had collected from various media outlets to prove their case. Visiting the province is banned under Ukrainian law and violates the international sanctions imposed on Russia because of its invasion and annexation of the peninsula, said the statement.

Margi currently serves as a Shas MK and as the chairman of the Knesset’s Education committee.

Ukrainian law states that any foreigner who wishes to visit the Crimean Peninsula must receive permission to do so from the Ukrainian government in Kiev.

“In light of all of the above, an initial criminal investigation into the case on suspicion of violation of the law has begun,” said the statement from the Prosecutor General’s Office. “Evidence that will be gathered will be passed on from the prosecutor’s special Crimea office to the Prosecutor General’s Office to determine whether to prosecute.”

Following the incident the Ukrainian embassy in Tel Aviv submitted an official letter of protest to the Foreign Ministry and the office of Shas chairman and Interior Minister Arye Deri. The letter said that the Ukrainian government is considering indicting Margi and prosecuting him in absentia.

“MK Margi violated the law, and we are weighing to prosecute him,” the letter stated. “We ask that you pass on this message to the Israeli public, to government officials and elected officials.”

It is important to note that Aksyonov’s government is not recognized by any Western country and that it is only recognized by seven countries around the world, which include, Russia, Syria, Afghanistan, Nicaragua, Venezuela, North Korea and Cuba.

Israeli diplomats disavowed any foreknowledge or responsibility for Margi’s visit. According to a report in Haaretz, senior Israeli Foreign Ministry officials said that neither Margi’s visit to Crimea nor his meetings with the local authorities there were planned with the Foreign Ministry. Knesset sources said that Margi’s trip was not an official Knesset visit and that he had presented it to the Knesset Ethics Committee for its approval as a private visit.

Margi wrote in his travel request that the trip was at the invitation of the rabbi of the Crimean city of Sevastopol, Binyomin Wolff, to tour Jewish institutions in the city, as the trip was of a private nature the Ethics Committee had approved the trip.

2 replies
  1. Joe Levin
    Joe Levin says:

    יו”ר ועדת החינוך של הכנסת, ח”כ יעקב מרגי (ש”ס), התייחס היום (ראשון) לדיווחים על פתיחת החקירה באוקראינה נגדו בעקבות ביקורו בקרים.

    לטענת מרגי בטרם הביקור באוקראינה לא דווח לו כי הוא מתעתד לפגוש בראשי השלטון המקומי ומה שנעשה הוא בגדר “חוסר רגישות וחוסר מעש”, כלשונו.

    “אין ספק שמה שקרה זה חוסר הבנה, ומצד הרבה גורמים, אני האחרון שרוצה לקומם עלי את השלטונות האוקראיניים, ואני יודע את האינטרסים היהודים והישראלים של הקשר עם האוקראינים”, ציין מרגי בראיון לרדיו ‘קול חי’.

    בדבריו סיפר כי הפגישות נקבעו כביכול בספונטניות. “הוזמנתי על ידי רב הקהילה בגלל צורך מסוים בבית הספר בקהילה. הביקור כולו נמשך 36 שעות, כשמתוכן 24 שעות היו טיסות. קודם לכן, ביקשתי אישור מועדת האתיקה…. לא ידעתי שאני הולך להיפגש עם ראשי השלטון, תוך כדי אמרו לי ‘אתה כאן ולא תיפגש?’, אף אחד לא תכנן את זה מראש”, אמר.

    “אני מצטער שזה קרה זו לא הייתה התוכנית, ובטח אני שלא התכוונתי לכך, הייתה כאן חוסר רגישות וחוסר מעש של אנשים, ואני לא כועס על ההתקוממות האוקראינים – היא במקומה, גם אנחנו היינו מגיבים ככה”.

    לדבריו, במידה ומשרד החוץ יחליט כי עליו לשגר התנצלות, הרי שהוא ישגר התנצלות. “אני מקווה להיפגש היום עם יו”ר הכנסת ולסדר את העניין. ואם משרד החוץ יחליט שזה מה שצריך אני ודרעי נשלח הבהרה והתנצלות ואוקראינים. אבל כאמור, מי שצריך להחליט כרגע על המהלכים הוא משרד החוץ ולא שום גורם חובבני כזה או אחר”, אמר.

    אמש דווח ב’קול ישראל’ כי התביעה הכללית באוקראינה הורתה לפתוח בחקירה פלילית בעקבות ביקורו של חבר הכנסת יעקב מרגי מש”ס בחצי האי קרים. במשרד התובע בקייב אומרים כי המשלחת הפרלמנטרית של הכנסת, שבראשה עמד ח”כ מרגי, עברה על החוק האוקראיני מאחר שביקרה בחצי האי המצוי כעת תחת כיבוש רוסי.

  2. Joe Levin
    Joe Levin says:

    The Ukrainian Prosecutor’s Office launched a criminal investigation over the weekend into Shas MK Ya’acov Margi’s visit to Crimea last week, in an effort to dissuade others from visiting the peninsula and giving legitimacy to Russian rule there.

    Margi, chairman of the Knesset Education Committee, stepped into a diplomatic mine-field last week when he met with the head of the Russian-established government in Crimea, Prime Minister Sergei Aksyonov, breaking with Israel’s policy of maintaining strict neutrality in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. Russia annexed the peninsula in 2014.

    According to a statement on the website of the Prosecutor’s Office of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, “a criminal investigation” against Margi was launched “into the illegal entry” into Russian-annexed Crimea.

    According to the statement, Margi and his delegation violated “the procedure for entry” into the territory annexed by Russia.

    According to Ukrainian law, violation of entry procedures into Crimea is punishable by up to five years imprisonment.

    The Forum Daily, a Russian language Jewish website based in New York, reported that the decision to open an investigation sends a message to the rest of the Knesset “not to meddle in violation of Ukrainian laws in occupied Crimea and not to participate in political Russian propaganda campaigns.”

    Margi’s visit were trumpeted in the local press as an indication of cracks in the international isolation of Crimea.

    Ukraine ambassador to Israel Hennadii Nadolenko sent a letter to the Foreign Ministry protesting the visit.

    Ukrainian authorities have also hinted that the visa-free travel to Uman for tens of thousands of Israelis visiting the grave of Rabbi Nahman of Breslov each year may be in jeopardy. A spokesperson at the embassy, however, said that no decision on this matter has been taken, and that this was just one measure being discussed.

    The Ukrainian embassy has a notice on its website regarding the rules and regulations governing entry into Ukraine.

    Foreign Ministry officials said that they did not know in advance about Margi’s trip, and had they known, they would have advised against it. The Knesset’s spokesman said the trip was not an official Knesset delegation, and not planned or coordinated with the Knesset, beyond the requisite authorization from the Ethics Committee. Margi submitted to the Ethics Committee an invitation from Chief Rabbi of Sevastopol Binyomin Wolf, including an offer to fund his trip.

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