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30 August, 2021

Ukrainian police clash with far-right group at Odesa Pride March

Violent clashes broke out on August 28 between Ukrainian police and a far-right nationalist group trying to disrupt an annual LGBT Pride march in the port city of Odesa

Police detained at least 51 members of Tradition and Order, including the head of the ultra-nationalist group’s Odesa chapter.

RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service reported Tradition and Order members used tear gas against police as law enforcement separated the neo-Nazi group from several hundred LGBT activists who had gathered for the Pride event.

"A group of young people started attacking the police for no reason. It is clear that the police used proper means to stop the offense," Mykola Semenyshyn, the head of the National Police in Odesa Oblast, told reporters.

As a result of the clashes, 29 law enforcement officers were injured, mostly from reactions to tear gas.

Police said they opened criminal proceedings against Tradition and Order members under articles of threat or violence against a law enforcement officer, riots, and hooliganism.

LGBT activists were on high alert after last year’s event was marked by Tradition and Order members attacking police and participants of the Odesa Pride rally.

According to a U.S. State Department human rights report, last year there was poor communication between Pride organizers and police which contributed to law enforcement failing to provide adequate protection to the rally.

“Many were afraid of a repetition of last year’s events and did not want to come,” Anna Leonova, head of the organizing committee of Odesa Pride, was quoted as saying by news outlet Dumskaya.

To prevent a repeat of last year's violence, this year police deployed more than 1,000 officers to protect LGBT activists from around 300 Tradition and Order counterprotesters.

Radio Liberty

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