Police violently clash with far-right, neo-Nazi thugs at Ukrainian Pride parade

Ukraine police arrest far-right Pride crashers

Police violently clashed and arrested dozens of thugs who trashed an Odessa, Ukraine, Pride event in the latest tense standoff between LGBT+ activists and the far-right.

It was a scene no doubt familiar to LGBT+ activists, who for years have witnessed fledgling Pride events pummelled by right-wing rebels. This year’s march was postponed from earlier this year to Saturday (28 August) due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But what could have been a moment of celebration and long-sought for relief from the pandemic was tarnished when the Tradition and Order, an extreme neo-Nazi group, descended upon the march.

Tradition and Order members hurled tear gas and buttressed flags as police desperately sought to shield the hundreds of Pride-goers, RFE/RL‘s Ukrainian Service reported. Organisers were forced to delay the festivities by more than an hour due to security reasons.

Far-right thugs rumble with Ukraine police ‘for no reason’ during Pride

“A group of young people started attacking the police for no reason,” Mykola Semenyshyn, the head of the National Police in Odesa Oblast, told reporters, “it is clear the police used proper means to stop the offence.”

As the seething far-right demonstrators battered police, at least 29 law enforcement officers suffered injuries while Pride revellers, their faces painted with the colours of the rainbow, tried to block the path to cut off the disruptors.

Primorsky Police Department detained 51 members of Tradition and Order for violence against police, riots and hooliganism.

Pride parades in Ukraine have bristled with tension and fear in recent years, with last year’s Odessa Pride Parade flanked by ultra-nationalist hooligans. But in startling scenes, the police simply “stood idle” as peaceful Pride participants were pelted with gas and eggs.

One attendee was left needed chemical burns of the eyes, face and neck of the first degree” after she was sprayed with an unknown substance, the police said in a statement on its website.

Such violent confrontations were seen by activists as an outgrowth of the prejudice LGBT+ Ukrainians encounter day-to-day, where they have few legal rights.

While basic discrimination protections are in the books, there is no recognition for same-sex relationships, and queer couples are banned from getting married or adopting children.

“Those who attacked demonstrators should be punished for physical and psychological violence against citizens of Ukraine,” the event organisers said at the time. “Odessa police should be punished for standing idle during a crime.”