The ultra-nationalist Svoboda Party has admitted that their activists attacked gay community and human rights activists who were holding a protest in central Kyiv on Dec. 8 to commemorate international Human Rights Day.
Not only did the party – with 38 seats in the upcoming parliament – admit breaking up the peaceful demonstration, Svoboda officials are proud of the actions, which included spraying teargas on peaceful activists. Police detained six people at the rally. One participant had his nose broken.
“Thanks to the five nationalists, the sabbath of 50 perverts was broken up,” boasts Svoboda on its official web page in a statement that was posted there on Dec. 10. “They pulled out banners with perverted slogans, after which the protesters used teargas on them, but they received a decent rebuff. The fight broke out for which the police intruded,” the statement reads.
The police detained five Svoboda Party members on the spot – Onysya Garai, Sergiy Bondar, Ihor Berdennikov, and two other under-aged party activists whom Svoboda does not name. Onushya Garai is accused of hooliganism and resisting the police. Aside from nationalists, police detained one gay activist.
However, Svoboda says its members did not beat up gay demonstrators after the protest was over. “It has come to our attention that after the demonstration some of its participants were attacked by the unknown people. Two more perverts were beaten up later in the evening,” the statement reads.
One of the attacked men, Sergiy, spoke to Kyiv Post on conditions of anonymity because he fears for his life. He said he and his friends were attacked after the protest when they left a cafe. He is now recovering at home with a broken nose.
Svoboda spokesperson Yuriy Syrotiuk initially denied party involvement in the event, when he spoke to Kyiv Post on Dec. 10. But later the same day the statement which claims exactly the opposite appeared on official web page.
Syrotiuk added that Svoboda supports “traditional Ukrainian family values.”
Svoboda is an ultra-nationalist party, famous for its radical ideas. Oleg Tiahnybok who heads the party was kicked out of the Our Ukraine faction in Parliament in 2004 for anti-Semitic statements. Svoboda is also famous for its racist comments. In February, party spokesman Yuriy Syrotiuk said he was unhappy about black singer Gaitana representing Ukraine in the Eurovision song contest because she “is not an organic representative of the Ukrainian culture.”
Deputy head of Svoboda Ihor Miroshnychenko called Mila Kunis, a Hollywood actress of Ukrainian descent, a “zhidovka,” which is an offensive word for Jew in Ukrainian. “She is not Ukrainian, she is a Yid. She is proud of it, so star of David be with her,” wrote Miroshnychenko on his official Facebook profile.
Svoboda, a party which had the approval of less than a threshold 5 percent, raised many eyebrows when it received more than 10 percent of the popular vote and 38 seats in parliament on Oct. 28 elections.