We urge the police to investigate threats to Odesa Pride: statement by NGOs

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Head of the National Police of Ukraine

Ihor Klymenko

Head of the National Police

Main Department in Odesa Region

Oleh Bekh

Copy to:

Offices of international organizations

and embassies of democratic countries

Equality March is scheduled for August 28 in Odesa as part of Pride Week. Equality March is an important human rights event in support of LGBTIQ people in the region which this year focuses on the safety of peaceful assemblies after last year’s action had been disrupted by far-right activists. At the same time, the safety of the march itself is under threat as the right-wing radical group “Tradition and Order” openly threatens the participants with physical violence and tries to mobilize its supporters.

On August 10, after the date of the march was announced, Illia Popkov the leader of the Odesa branch of the right-wing radical group “Tradition and Order”, wrote on his Facebook page and Telegram channel that opponents of the event would oppose the March under the slogan “Let’s repeat Tbilisi”. (The slogan refers to the attacks on civil society activists and journalists in July this year, several hours before the LGBT rights march in the capital of Georgia when opponents of the march smashed the offices of two human rights organizations and beat several dozen people).

In addition, Odesa Pride organizers say they spotted calls on local Telegrams channels to oppose the march and attempts to coordinate those wishing to do so.

At the same time, in a post on his Telegram channel of August 16, Head of the group “Tradition and Order” Bohdan Khodakovsky mentions last year’s experience when the participants in the Odesa Pride march were attacked by a group of people wearing symbols of “Tradition and Order “. As a result of this attack a year ago, more than a dozen Odesa Pride participants got injured: far-right activists beat them on heads, threatened the participants with rape, and sprayed tear gas in the crowd. Several police officers were also injured. However, the investigators did not call any victims and did not conduct an effective investigation into the attack over the past year. Moreover, the court is currently considering a lawsuit filed by human rights activists over the failure of the police to protect protesters during last year’s Odesa Pride. Against the background of impunity for the previous attack, Khodakovsky concludes his post with a phrase that can be understood as incitement to violence: “On August 28, I call on the people of Odesa to show courage before the rainbow Romanians push them into gender catacombs.”

Representatives of the Odesa Pride organizing committee appealed to the Odesa police, informing them about the above-mentioned threats and calls, emphasizing that they see a real threat to the lives and health of the march participants, as well as to opportunities to exercise their right to peaceful assembly. However, as it became known on August 17, law enforcement officers refused to initiate criminal proceedings contrary to the requirements of the Criminal Procedure Code.

Given the above, as well as the fact that Odesa Pride is the first in a series of this year’s human rights events to support the LGBTIQ community (Kharkiv Pride and Kyiv Pride are scheduled for September), we call on the law enforcement agencies to:

  • Conduct an investigation and prosecute those who spread threats and calls for violence against the participants in Odesa Pride march, which will take place on August 28, 2021.
  • Ensure an adequate level of safety for protesters and journalists who will cover the Equality March.
  • Intensify the investigation and bring to justice those involved in the violence at last year’s Odesa Pride.

ZMINA Human Rights Centre

Nash Svit LGBT Human Rights Centre

Association UMDPL

NGO “Insight”

Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union

Center for Civil Liberties


NGO “Cherkasy Human Rights Center”

NGO “Center “Women’s Perspectives”

NGO “Theater of Change”

Ukrainian Pacifist Movement

NGO “Roma Human Rights Center”

Ukrainian Legal Aid Foundation