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Ukraine Urged To Protect Women’s Solidarity Events From Violent Attacks

Police clash with far-right activists after they attacked LGBT participants during a march to mark International Women's Day in Kyiv on March 8, 2018.

Amnesty International is urging the Ukrainian authorities to ensure that participants in events marking International Women’s Day on March 8 are “protected from violence.”

One of these events, dubbed The First Wreath: The Reunion Of Women’s Solidarity, is organized by activist Vitalina Koval and Amnesty International Ukraine in the western city of Uzhhorod.

For the past two years, feminist events organized by Koval on International Women’s Day have been met with violence from far-right groups, the London-based human rights watchdog said in a statement on March 7.

Last year, Koval was “attacked with red paint by members of a violent group at the solidarity event and sustained burns to her eyes,” it added.

The Ukrainian authorities’ “failure to ensure adequate protection” has led to “injuries to peaceful attendees at solidarity events,” said Oksana Pokalchuk, director of Amnesty International Ukraine.

“They have no excuse to fail again,” Pokalchuk added, urging the authorities to “take every reasonable measure to guarantee the right to peaceful assembly and the safety of participants in events marking International Women’s Day across the country.”

In February, Ukraine Amnesty International blasted the Ukrainian authorities’ failure to prevent or investigate “numerous” human rights violations committed last year against rights activists -- in particular those defending the rights of women and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community -- political opponents, and ethnic minorities.

“Hate-motivated groups in Ukraine who attack human rights activists, political opponents, and ethnic minorities believe they can do so with impunity, and the authorities’ past inaction and ineffective investigations have bolstered this belief,” according to Pokalchuk.