Far-Right Group Attacks LGBTQ Pride in Eastern Ukrainian City
15 September, 2019
Kharkiv Pride attendants march on September 15 in Kharkiv, eastern Ukraine. Hromadske

Two people have been injured after a far-right attack on the LGBTQ Pride in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv on September 15.

Members of the far-right organization "Freikorps" beat the attendants of the march shortly following the end of the event. The two victims were taken to hospital. 15 people were detained and taken to a police department in Kharkiv, where fellow "Freikorps" members subsequently made their way to "free their people."

Clashes also erupted during the detention; one law enforcement officer was pepper-sprayed by the far-right. 

Kharkiv Pride went ahead on September 15, despite strong opposition from the local government and even a court rule against it. According to Kharkiv officials, such an event would have bad implications on the drivers of the city who – due to partial closure of streets – would not be able to get to several spots in the city. While the mayor of Kharkiv, Gennadiy Kernes, even asked the court to "restrain Kharkiv Pride" fearing provocations and violence. A September 5 court sitting decided against holding the event.

Four days (and a few condemnations by Ukrainian and western human rights organizations) later, Kernes announced that Kharkiv Pride would go ahead.

"Why [did we change our mind]? Because we see that it's an event that needs security measures. We cannot restrict or ban them," the mayor of Kharkiv told MediaPort news agency on September 9.

A "March for traditional values" took place at the same time as Pride in Kharkiv. The two demonstrations were separated by a horde of law enforcement officers working to ensure safety for the attendants. 2,000 people attended Kharkiv Pride, while 500 attended the counter-demonstration.

Straight after the end of the event and before the attack, Kharkiv police announced "no violations" and "no detentions," despite the march being marred by by some egg-throwing from the counter-protesters. One of the eggs hit a Kharkiv-based Hromadske correspondent who was covering the event.

/By Maria Romanenko