A Roma settlement near Lviv in western Ukraine was attacked by a group of unidentified men wearing masks on June 23. One person was killed and several injured, including a 10-yar-old boy.
According to media reports, this is the sixth attack on Roma settlements in Ukraine in the last two months – one other in Lviv, one in Ternopil also western Ukraine, and three in Kyiv.
“This attack should be a final wake-up call for Ukraine’s police to take decisive action against hate crimes,” said Tanya Cooper, Ukraine researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Radical groups have not been held accountable for their attacks on Roma people, which could not but have emboldened them to commit more attacks. Now someone is dead.”
According to Human Rights Watch, Ukraine’s authorities have not responded adequately to the growing number of violent attacks and threats promoting hate and discrimination in Ukraine by members of violent radical groups.
The suspects are reported to be members of a radical group called Sober and Angry Youth. Some members of this group have ties to the former volunteer battalion Azov, which fought in eastern Ukraine and is implicated in numerous allegations of unlawful detention, torture, and other abuses.
Police have arrested seven suspects, all Lviv residents.
Sergiy Knyazev, the head of Ukraine’s National Police, issued a statement condemning the attack. He also said such attacks had become more frequent and called the attackers “immoral” and the attack “unjustifiable.”
Since the beginning of 2018, human rights groups have documented at least two dozen violent attacks, threats, or instances of intimidation by radical groups, reported Human Rights Watch.
On June 14, Human Rights Watch together with Freedom House, Amnesty International, and Front Line Defenders published an open letter addressed to Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, and General Prosecutor Yuri Lutsenko. The groups condemned the growing number of hate crimes in Ukraine and the impunity for those responsible, calling on Ukraine’s law-enforcement to take urgent steps to stop and punish those responsible for attacks.