Russian soldiers captured after being found hiding in basement by Ukraine LGBT+ activists

Viktor Pylypenko, an LGBT+ activist in Ukraine

Members of an LGBT+ organisation in Ukraine captured a group of Russian soldiers they found hiding in their offices.

Viktor Pylypenko told Israeli newspaper The Israel Hayom that he and his group had the soldiers in their office basement in the city of Kharkiv.

Pylypenko is an LGBT+ activist and veteran who, after fighting in the Maidan Revolution, formed an organisation to support queer veterans in Ukraine and fight for LGBT+ rights.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last week, he has rejoined the army to fight for his country’s freedom.

After finding the soldiers, Pylypenko said, he and his fellow activists beat them and took them captive.

He added: “This is our war, the Ukrainians, but we have also been fighting as LGBTQ people… We are confronting a tyrannical, homophobic enemy.”

Pylypenko and his colleagues are not alone – across Ukraine, LGBT+ people have been preparing for combat. 

Veronika Limina, who works for an NGO promoting equal rights for LGBT+ people in the military, recently told The Daily Beast that she had been training up queer folk, teaching them basic combat and paramedic skills.

“I am angry… We will kill Putin,” she said.

Like Pylypenko, many in the queer community are not only fighting for their country, but also to preserve the few LGBT+ rights they have in Ukraine.

Same-sex marriage is illegal in Ukraine, as is joint adoption by same-sex couples, and being trans is still classified as an illness.

But recent years have seen gradual progress, with the county passing laws to make it easier for trans folk to transition, and to protect LGBT+ people from workplace discrimination. These rights could disappear at the hands of the viciously anti-LGBT+ Putin.

Andrii Kravchuk, who works at LGBT+ human rights organisation Nash Svit Center, said that they were fighting against “total lawlessness and repressions”, adding: “Now we have only two options: either we defend our country, and it will become a part of the free world, or there will not be any freedom for us and will not be Ukraine at all.”