Chabad's "chief rabbi" of the Ukraine, Azriel Chaikin, meets with Cossack leaders.
The Baltimore Jewish Times reports:
The dispute escalated a few days after the Sumy opening, when a majority of Ukrainian rabbis blasted the election of a new chief rabbi -- the country's third -- as illegitimate. More than 30 Chabad rabbis affiliated with the federation issued a statement Sept. 15 saying that the election of another Chabad rabbi, Moshe Reuven Azman of Kiev, to serve as Ukraine's chief rabbi was "illegitimate" and "insulting to the feelings of every believer."
A chief rabbi "can be elected only by rabbis working in Jewish communities of that country," the statement said, referring to the fact that Azman's election Sept. 11 was endorsed by a group of secular Jewish leaders but not by any rabbinical authority.
The vast majority of rabbis permanently working in Ukraine these days are Chabad rabbis affiliated with the federation. Unlike other Orthodox rabbis working in Ukraine, Azman, who is Russian-born, is not affiliated with the federation and for years has received support from [Oligarch Vadim] Rabinovich, who initiated the election for chief rabbi.
[Sumy Jewish community leader Alexander] Goron, for his part, says he and the rest of Sumy's Jewish leaders aren't interested in the kind of power struggle that has plagued Jewish communities in larger Ukrainian and Russian cities.
Meanwhile, Ukraine's (second) (Chabad) chief rabbi Azriel Chaikin met with Cossack leaders.
The long-serving and original post-communism chief rabbi Yakov Bleich has been largely silent, busy working on the many programs he founded over the years to serve Ukrainian Jews. The man needs a good press agent.