Memorial site at Babi Yar
Photo: AP
Kiev mayor vetoes plan to build hotel in Babi Yar
Jewish organizations protest plans to build hotel ahead of Euro football championships near site where 34,000 Jews were murdered by Nazis 68 years ago

A plan to build a hotel near Babi Yar, where the Nazis killed nearly 34,000 Jews in 1941, was vetoed by Kiev mayor, Ukrainian media reported Saturday.


The project, expected to be launched in the suburbs of the Ukrainian capital, had been approved by the Kiev municipality in preparation for the Euro 2012 football championships, to be held in Poland and Ukraine.


The building endeavor prompted the outrage of various Jewish groups, accusing the Ukraine of violating the memory of the victims.


Kiev mayor Leonid Chernovetsky blocked the endeavor by exercising his veto right.

Babi Yar memorial (Photo: Olga Gouresky)


According to the Ukraine Interfax agency, members of the Kiev municipality council gave the project a green light without realizing its exact location.


The memorial at Babi Yar is dedicated to some 34,000 Jews who were shot to death by the Nazis and their Ukrainian collaborators on September 29- 30, 1941. The victims' memorial was built on site in 1991.


Overall, historians estimate that up to 60,000 people had been murdered at Babi Yar by 1943.


The Ukraine is currently under pressure to prove it is able to host Euro 2012 after being strongly criticized by UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) in recent months for its lack of preparation.


Meanwhile, Israeli President Shimon Peres spoke to a Ukrainian audience via video-conference this week.


Peres was asked regarding the relations between the two countries and said he knows there is a will and a readiness. Some issues still require a new approach, he said, including the one of Babi Yar. Peres added that he heard about plans to set up buildings there, but added that the site must not be touched.


"I hope the issue will be resolved" he said.


The president also added that Israel has received various documents from the Ukraine pertaining to World War II which it greatly appreciates.


Ronen Medzini and Olga Gouresky contributed to this report


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