Ukraine: Attack on LGBTI event highlights police failure to confront far-right violence

Responding to the disruption by far-right groups of an LGBTI rights meeting organized by Amnesty International in Kyiv on Thursday evening, Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia Regional Office, said:

"Given the police’s repeated inaction over such attacks, it is no surprise that members of Ukrainian far-right groups take full advantage of their impunity - repeatedly attacking individuals and groups whose views or identity they dislike. 

Given the police’s repeated inaction over such attacks, it is no surprise that members of Ukrainian far-right groups take full advantage of their impunity
Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia

“For the authorities in Ukraine to tolerate such incidents – many of which have been violent and resulted in injuries – and fail to prosecute the perpetrators shows a shameful disregard for the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.”

Background

An open public event, ‘The Offensive against LGBTI Rights as a Form of Censorship: The Russian experience”, was due to be held at the privately hired Underhub venue in Kyiv on 10 May, with representatives from Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and KyivPride participating as speakers.

More than 20 far-right group members arrived and threatened the participants with violence unless they left. An owner of the venue joined their calls and told the organizers to cancel the event and vacate the premises.

Five officers from Pechersk District Police force were present but refused to intervene. Only after the arrival of a group of City Patrol Police more than an hour later were the participants able to safely leave the venue, without the meeting taking place or any arrests being made.

In recent months in Ukraine there have been at least 30 attacks by members of far-right groups on women rights defenders, LGBTI and left-wing activists and Roma families. In most cases, the perpetrators act openly and with near-total impunity, often boasting about the incidents on social media.

In just one case, an attack on the Festival of Equality in the city of Zaporizhzhya in September 2017, the perpetrators were arrested and put on trial.