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Ukrainian Pride march cancelled in Kiev

Organizers say police won’t protect marchers in case of violence

Members of Kiev’s gay community gathered July 4 to protest the police department’s refusal to protect the Pride march they had scheduled for July 5.  Credit: Stacy Thomas

Organizers cancelled Kiev’s third attempt at a Pride march just one day before the event was scheduled to take place on Saturday, July 5, because of concerns that police wouldn’t protect the marchers.

“They said they won’t provide security, and if we organize it, it will be illegal,” says Elena Shevchenko, co-chair of Kiev (increasingly spelled Kyiv) Pride.

According to Shevchenko, police say they received insufficient notice of the march. “That’s completely not true,” she counters. “We submitted notification two days ago.”

In an interview with Xtra on July 3, Shevchenko said police had indicated they lack the resources to protect the marchers.

“They told us they don’t have enough forces to ensure our security, and they are not really willing to protect us during [this] situation in Ukraine, with anti-terroristic operations,” she said. “Basically, they think that it’s not a good time to have a parade.”

Last year’s Pride march in Kiev had to be rerouted because of protests, arrests and attempts at violence. The year before, what would have been Kiev’s first Pride march was cancelled because of threats of violence.

Approximately 50 people from the local gay community attended Kiev Pride’s press conference July 4 to protest the police department’s refusal to protect the marchers.

“I am really upset and I feel betrayed by the government, which was talking so much about human rights and equality for all during the recent Euromaidan protest,” one protester said.

“We regret that the new Ukrainian and Kiev authorities failed to guarantee freedom of expression and freedom of assembly for the LGBT community,” said Tatiana Mazur, director of Amnesty International Ukraine.