Activists of the Svoboda (Freedom) Ukrainian nationalist party
Activists of the Svoboda (Freedom) Ukrainian nationalist partyReuters

Prominent Ukrainian rabbi Hillel Cohen has been beaten and stabbed in Kiev in an alleged anti-Semitic attack, according to Jewish websites and Interfax news agency.

The rabbi, who runs the Ukrainian branch of the Hatzalah emergency services organisation, was assaulted by a group of men who yelled anti-Semitic insults.

His wife Racheli Coehn told JTA that attackers "struck him in the leg, shouting anti-Semitic slurs, calling him a 'zyhd' [Ukrainian word for 'kike']".

"This was clearly an anti-Semitic attack."

Cohen, who was injured in the leg and the back, managed to get a taxi to the nearest hospital.

The attack plays into the hands of ousted president Viktor Yanukovich's rhetoric and to that of the Kremlin that Ukraine's revolutionary movement that removed him is made up of Nazis and extremists.

Cohen told JTA that he believed the Ukrainian revolution encouraged anti-Semitic attacks.

In January, a religious Hebrew teacher was attacked outside his Kiev home by four men, but escaped without serious injury

A synagogue in eastern Ukraine 250 miles outside Kiev, was firebombed and reported minor damages.

One of the three main political parties that led the three-month-long protests which ousted Yanukovich, the ultra-nationalist Svoboda – Freedom – party, has been accused of anti-Semitism in the past.

However, Ira Forman, the US special envoy on anti-Semitism, dismissed Putin's claims that Ukrainian revolutionaries were Jew-haters.

"We have no indication that what President Putin has been saying about anti-Semitism has been a true reflection of what's happening on the ground," he said.

Ukraine is home to several hundred thousand Jews and many are reported to have actively supported the revolution.

Putin said that Russia's biggest concern was "the rampage of reactionary forces, nationalist and anti-Semitic forces going on in certain parts of Ukraine, including Kiev".

Svoboda's leader Oleh Tyahnyabok has made anti-Semitic statements in the past. The party glorifies Stephan Bandera, a Ukrainian resistance fighter who during World War II joined briefly with Nazi Germany against Russia before turning against the Germans.

However BBC Kiev correspondent David Stern reported that anti-Semitism "played absolutely no role in the demonstrations and government".