Cases of attacks against Roma community have increased in Ukraine. 

Members of the organization C14 in the Roma camp in Kiev. Photo: facebook page of Sergey Mazur 

In recent months, there have been six attacks on Roma in Ukraine. All of them were committed by representatives of ultra-right and nationalist organizations. In one of the attacks, on June 23 in Lvov, died a 24-year-old Roma, three more people were wounded, including a 10-year-old child.

Beginning from April 2018, Roma settlements were attacked six times in Ukraine.

On April 20 in Kiev, in the “Lysaya Gora” park, activists of the Ukrainian extreme right organization C14 destroyed the camp of nomadic Roma who lived here since the winter of 2018. According to media reports in February and April, representatives of the local authorities and police came to the camp and tried to force the Roma to leave this place. And on April 21, one of the members of the C14 published a post in the social network Facebook that Roma left the camp, and their tents and belongings were burned by nationalists.

A week later, representatives of the ultra-right association “Nemesis” burned abandoned houses in suburbs of Kiev, where the Roma lived. This action was also covered by nationalists in social networks, in their telegram-channel they wrote: “We are joining the flashmob from C14 to fight the gypsy parasites in the city of Kiev … We set fire to several houses inhabited by gypsies. Also during the raid, we had to “treat” one of the gypsies with pepper spray”.

On May 9, a Roma camp was burned in the village of Rudnoe in the Lvov region, two people were injured. On May 22, an attack was carried out on the Roma camp in the Ternopol region – people in masks destroyed tents and set them on fire. On June 7, representatives of the organization “National Squads” together with the police dispersed the Roma camp in one of the parks in Kiev. After the Roma left the camp, their houses were burnt.

On June 23 in Lvov, the Roma camp was destroyed by members of the right-wing radical organization “Sober and Mean Youth”. As a result of the attack, a 24-year-old Roma David Pap was killed, three more people were injured.

All six attacks on Roma have one thing in common – the participation of ultra-right organizations. According to media reports, C14 has been active since 2009 and originally existed as the youth wing of the nationalist party “Freedom”. However, after 2014, C14 began to act as an autonomous organization. Its members took part in the war in the Donbass as part of various volunteer battalions on the side of the Ukrainian government. In 2015, two participants of the C14, Andrei Medvedko and Denis Polishchuk, were detained on suspicion of killing an opposition writer and journalist Oles Buzina. The investigation of this case is still going on. In January 2018, members of the C14 participated in the conflict around the chapel of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate in the center of Kiev. Also, this organization participated in disrupting the activities of the LGBT community and representatives of the left movement – for example, during the action in Kiev in memory of the Russian activist Anastasia Baburova and lawyer Stanislav Markelov killed by Russian neo-Nazis. C14 activists are pressuring  lawyers who are defending opposition activists and persons accused of high treason, threatening public activists which monitor trials against oppositionists, etc.

Little is known about the organization “Nemesis”, which attacked the houses of Roma in one of the city districts of Kiev. According to media reports, their telegram channel appeared in March 2018. Members of “Nemesis” call themselves Ukrainian nationalists and say that their task is “at the right time to unite all the right-wing Ukrainians to fight one enemy.” According to journalists, the “enemy” means supporters of leftist and communist ideas, liberals, feminists and representatives of the LGBT community. Activists of the organization attacked the participants of the March for Women’s Rights, which was held in Kiev on March 8. Judging by their telegram channel, “Nemesis” also tried to disrupt the discussion about the danger of ultra-right movements in Ukraine at the documentary film festival Docudays.

Except for the June 24 attack in the Lvov region, the police did not immediately initiate investigations of attacks.

After the attack of members of C14 on the camp in the Kiev park “Lysaya Gora”, the police started criminal cases on: “hooliganism,” and “violation of the equality of citizens, depending on their race, nationality or attitude to religion.” The C14 activists, who took part in the pogrom, were summoned to the police for testimony, but no further actions were taken.

On May 11, after the appeal of the Ukrainian ombudsman Lyudmila Denisova, the police started the investigation on “hooliganism” because of the attack on the Roma on May 9 in the village of Rudnoe. On May 22, 12 participants of the attack on the Roma camp in the Ternopol region were detained – some of them were minors. After the pogrom of the Roma camp in Lvov in June, the police detained seven young people aged 16-17, as well as a 20-year-old organizer of the attack. Police instituted criminal proceedings on: “murder”; “incitement of national, racial hostility and hatred, which entailed grave consequences”; “hooliganism”; “involvement of minors in criminal activities”.

According to journalists, in the evening of June 26 it became known that the court arrested for two months six attackers at the Roma camp.

Materials from Media website  were used in the report.