Georgii (Zvi Hirsch) Logvynskyi, a Jewish Ukrainian who served in the Ukrainian Parliament from 2014–19, has been assisting thousands of Jews in Ukraine to flee the country.
Long before the Russians invaded Ukraine, Logvynskyi was involved in the rescue of a Chabad chassid from Kyiv who was kidnapped by the mafia last summer, an incident that unfortunately is not unheard of in Ukraine.
Logvynskyi, who has been a sought-after interviewee by Israeli media since the war began due to his fluent Hebrew, revealed the details of the shocking story in a recent interview with the Israeli Kfar Chabad weekly magazine.
“Last summer, I received a phone call from one of the women from our kehilla in Kyiv who said that her husband is missing,” he said.
“According to Ukrainian law, you can only file a missing person report with the police if three days have passed, and even after three days, the process is quite slow because it takes about a month to open a case and go to court. The woman was at her wit’s end, she was crying and asked me to help her.”
“I quickly located the footage of his abduction from security cameras. It showed that a car was waiting for him outside the shul and he entered the car and was abducted. They kidnapped him because for various reasons they mistakenly thought that he was wealthy. I investigated the car’s license plate and discovered that it wasn’t registered – the kidnappers had used a forged license plate.”
“The more I delved into the incident the more I realized that the kidnappers were professionals, they knew what they were doing. Later, we discovered that they collaborated with corrupt Ukrainian internal security service officials and managed to cover their tracks.”
“In order to locate the vehicle, I enlisted the help of the Ukrainian Internal Security Minister. This was on Sunday, which is a day off here, but nevertheless, I asked him to find a ‘semi-legal’ way to locate the vehicle.”
“Several days later, we managed to locate an address in Kyiv where we suspected that he was being held. The problem was that we were scared to approach the house, we knew that the kidnappers could kill us if they discovered us near the house. For over a week, we walked around nearby and monitored the house. One day, we saw a man leave the house, get into a car and drive to the store to buy oatmeal and water. We understood that this was food for the abductee.
“Ultimately, we developed a rescue plan together with Ukrainian security officials. We found the Chabad chassid in the house, in the basement, with his legs broken, and rescued him. The rescue operation lasted only three minutes. Huge quantities of weapons were found in the house along with documents from the Ukrainian internal security service. The police arrested the kidnappers as well as several members of its internal security service.”
“Until we entered, we weren’t a hundred percent sure that the Chabad chassid was being held in the house. Baruch Hashem, we found him and rescued him, and today, that chassid is receiving refugees from the city of Chernihiv in the east.”
Chernihiv was the second Ukrainian city that was almost completely destroyed by the Russians. “They’re blowing up buildings there from morning until night and there are hundreds of fatalities there every day – people who leave their bomb shelters to buy bread,” Logvynskyi said.
“There aren’t many volunteers in Kyiv who will accept refugees because many have left the city. But that Chabad chassid who was kidnapped last summer is one of the ones who remained in the city. On Purim, he fed the refugees from Chernihiv with food that his family prepared themselves.”
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)