French protesters perform the 'Quenelle' salute, branded anti-Semitic by Jewish groups. (PIERRE ANDRIEU/AFP/Getty Images)
French protesters perform the 'Quenelle', which is branded anti-Semitic by Jewish groups. Pierre Andrieu/AFP/Getty Images

The mayor of Lviv has claimed that there is less anti-Semitism in Ukraine than in France and Germany.

Mayor Andriy Sadovyi, whose Self Reliance Party came third in October's parliamentary elections, made the claim on Thursday, at the opening of the city's first Limmud FSU Jewish learning conference, which 600 Jewish people participated in.

The remarks follow claims from the Russian government and media that Western-backed fascists toppled the Ukrainian government in March and have unleashed a wave of anti-Semitism in the country.

In October, the Russian state-owned RIA Novosti news agency quoted Avigdor Eskin, an Israeli political analyst with ties to Putin's Kremlin, saying that there would soon be "Jewish pogroms" in Ukraine.

"There is a lot of talk of ant-Semitism in Ukraine," Sadovyi told media at the event. "But the truth is, anti-Semitism is much more prevalent in places like France and Germany."

In France this year there has been a surge in anti-Semitic violence, with anti-Israeli protesters over the summer targeting synagogues, and firebombing one in the Parisian suburb Sarcelles.

A Molotov cocktail was lobbed into Bergische synagogue in Wuppertal in July, and Jews have been attacked on the streets.

Lviv is the stronghold of the far-right Svoboda party, a nationalistic and virulently anti-Russian party, which is won six parliamentary seats in the elections.

After the strong showing of Sadovyi's Self Reliance party in the country's October elections, the first since the revolution, he declined to become a parliamentary lawmaker, citing his mayoral commitments in Lviv.

On its website, the Limmud FSU describes its mission as "To redress the injustices suffered by the Jewish people in the Soviet Union under Communism, by helping to rebuild the Jewish intellectual and cultural traditions eradicated by the Holocaust and decades of Soviet oppression."

Chaim Chesler, Limmud FSU's founder, told JTA that the organisations contacts with Sadovyi would be of benefit to Jewish people.

"The contacts that we are establishing with this up-and-coming politician in Ukraine and his counterparts elsewhere in the region in our Limmud conferences will benefit, in the long run, not only local communities but the Jewish people and Israel," he said.