Some 300 Jewish pilgrims arrived in Uman for the annual celebration at the gravesite of a prominent Jewish spiritual leader, the mayor of the Ukrainian city said on Wednesday, despite the Eastern European country placing restrictions on such events due to the Russian invasion.
Iryna Pletnyova claimed the pilgrims have yet to pay a tourist tax that came into effect this year, which stands at 300 hryvnias ($8) a day per person.
Each year, thousands of members of the Breslov Hasidic movement and other religious and non-religious Jews descend on the Ukrainian town on the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, for a three-day festival at the gravesite of the movement's founder Rebbe Nachman of Breslov.
Sources in Uman's Jewish community confirmed to Ynet that several hundred worshipers did arrive in the city - but according to them, these are mainly Hasidim who wish to spend their summer vacation there.
Last month, Ukrainian Ambassador to Israel Yevgen Kornichuk warned that the pilgrimage to Rabbi Nachman's tomb is too dangerous as fighting raged throughout the country and estimated that it will most likely not take place this year.
Meanwhile, Pletnyova insists in interviews with Ukrainian media that these are in fact pilgrims who are planning to stay there until Rosh Hashanah, which begins on September 25 this year.
This is not the first time that Hasidim arrive in advance to avoid closures. Last August, about ten thousand Israelis arrived early in Uman, fearing that the Israeli and Ukrainian governments would impose restrictions that would ban them from the celebrations amid the COVID-19 pandemic.