Lawmakers said Kiev's city council approved a plan last week to build dozens of hotels in the next decade - including a three-star hotel to house visiting football fans for Euro 2012 - on what a Babi Yar scholar said was a killing field.
Babi Yar is one of the most sensitive sites for Ukrainian Jews. More than 33,700 Jews were rounded up and shot at the edge of the Babi Yar ravine over two days in late September 1941. In the ensuing months, the sprawling ravine was filled with an estimated 100,000 bodies, among them those of non-Jewish Kiev residents and Red Army prisoners of the Nazis.
The hotel proposal, discussed at a closed council meeting last week, has been described to Ukrainian and Israeli media by a member of Kiev's council, Serhy Melnik, a political opponent of the city's mayor, Leonid Chernovetsky. Mr Melnik told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that 67 of Kiev's city councillors had approved the hotel plan without knowing what they were voting for.
According to Mr Melnik, the Babi Yar site has been included in a list of dozens of the city's parks and other open spaces earmarked for possible construction of hotels to house the hundreds of thousands of football supporters expected for the competition, to be co-hosted with Poland. The decision has attracted controversy in the Israeli media and angered some members of Kiev's council - not least Mr Melnik, who is using the issue to attack the council leadership.
They said there were two issues at stake. First, the proposed new hotel would probably be built in an area that many have been campaigning for years to have designated as a national memorial to the massacre. The second issue is of consistency. Kiev's chief rabbi, Yakov Bleich, said when Jewish community members proposed building a museum and religious complex in that area in 2006, their plans ran into city opposition.
''What we know,'' Rabbi Bleich said, ''is that a resolution was passed by the city council for a hotel in Babi Yar. There is an underground [station] already there and no one screamed. But perhaps people should have screamed.''
The Soviet Union discouraged any remembrance that singled out the Jewish character of a large part of the atrocity, a fact that inspired Yevgeny Yevtushenko's 1961 dissident poem Babi Yar, and Dmitri Shostakovich's 1962 Symphony No. 13, based on the poem. Only in 1991, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, was a memorial unveiled for the Jewish victims, most of whom perished in two days and nights of killing on September 29 and 30, 1941.
Although Babi Yar is most remembered for that massacre, the Nazis used the ravine for mass murder until they retreated from the Soviet Union. In all, it is estimated that 70,000 to 120,000 people were killed there.