Pinchas Vishedski, chief rabbi of the Donetsk area’s 15,000 Jews, told Reuters on Saturday that while it was initially shocking, he was now satisfied it was a political hoax – “a crude provocation” – though its authorship was still unclear.

“I’m asking those behind this not to make us tools in this game,” he said. Anti-Semitic incidents in the Russian-speaking east were “rare, unlike in Kiev and western Ukraine,” he said.

Quoted on the community’s website, Vishedski had said on Thursday: “Since it’s only a smear, we should react responsibly – draw a line under it and close the matter.”