| LVIV, June 10
LVIV, June 10 The mayor of Lviv on Sunday
brushed off media allegations of racism in Ukraine and dismissed
a call by a Jewish human rights group to avoid some restaurants
in the city on the grounds they are anti-Semitic.
Lviv is one of four Ukrainian cities to host matches. In the
run-up to the tournament, German and British media reports spoke
of widespread racism in the country and mentioned supporters of
local soccer team Karpaty Lviv, who have been known to brandish
Nazi flags at games.
Mayor Andriy Sadovyi bristled when asked about the reports
and a call from international Jewish human rights organisation
the Simon Wiesenthal Center for fans to boycott two restaurants.
"Sorry, sorry, sorry: these restaurants are an attraction
but there was never any anti-Semitism and there won't be," he
told a news conference.
"Lviv is an absolutely tolerant city ... (with) people of
different nationalities who respect each other."
Lviv had a significant Jewish population before World War
Two but it was almost totally wiped out by the Nazis.
Nationalist Ukrainian groups, some of whom also took part in
anti-Jewish operations, are extremely popular in the Lviv region
in Western Ukraine because they also mounted a strong
One of the restaurants is a replica of a hideout used by
followers of nationalist leader Stepan Bandera.
The other offers diners black hats with artificial sidelocks
to make them look like religious Jews. There are no prices on
the menu and customers are expected to haggle, something the
Wiesenthal Center said was "a notorious anti-Semitic stereotype
still prevalent in Eastern Europe".
Sadovyi said he was unaware of any racist problems in Lviv
and noted that some of the media organisations reporting on
supposed tensions in Ukraine were British.
He said he had been shocked by the London riots last year
and had had no idea there were racist tensions in the city.
"They had riots in the city and you probably heard about
that. I can't even imagine such a thing in Lviv. Maybe some
people don't like it, but Lviv is a city open to the world," he
(Editing by Ed Osmond)