Jewish groups have condemned a decision by the city of Kiev to allow a hotel to be built at the site of a Nazi massacre during World War Two, reports say.
Local authorities have approved plans to build dozens of hotels for the 2012 European Football Championship. One will be near a monument to victims of the Babi Yar massacre, where the Nazi killed 34,000 Jews in 1941. The Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Israel says the plan showed “utter insensitivity” to their memory.
The hotel is set to be built in the middle of the main site of the killings, according to Vitaliy Nakhmanovich, a leading Ukrainian Babi Yar scholar, reports say. The Simon Wiesenthal Center said in a statement: "The plan to build a hotel on the site of the one of the worst Holocaust massacres is an example of utter insensitivity to the terrible crimes committed by the Nazis and their Ukrainian collaborators during World War II.
“We urge the Ukrainian authorities to take all necessary measures to prevent the building of such an obviously inappropriate edifice at Babi Yar,” the statement added.
A senior lawmaker in Kiev, Viktor Hrinyuk, who is close to the city mayor, said the hotel would not disturb any remains and that plans were not final and are subject to change.
In the past, Jewish leaders have expressed concerns over what they say are cases of persistent disrespect for Jewish heritage and of anti-Semitism in Ukraine, reports say.
Around 33,700 Jews were rounded up and shot at Babi Yar over two days, beginning on 29 Sept 1941.
Over the following months, the Nazis filled the Babi Yar ravine with an estimated 100,000 bodies, including the bodies of non-Jewish residents of Kiev and Soviet army prisoners.