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Ukraine Struggles With Rising Hate Crimes

The Ukraine government’s dream is to one day be accepted into the European Union, but increasing evidence of hate crimes in the nation might increase difficulties into being accepted in a union which says hate crimes are not to be allowed. Nigerian medical student George Itoro Ebong was simply waiting for a bus in the central part of Kyiv when three young men ran up and shouted, “Go back to Africa, you’re a monkey,” and then proceeded to hit him over the head with a bottle. Ebong has learned from sad experience the only safe place for him in Kyiv is the safety of his dormitory at the university. “It is safe in the university and the dormitory, but on the street it is not safe, on the metro, even on the bus it is not safe.”

A report issued by Amnesty International warns of an “alarming rise” in racist attacks in the Ukraine. The organization says at least sixty people were killed last year as a result of racist violence and more than 30 people have been the victims of racism since the first of this year. Most of the violence is blamed on ultranationalist groups like the Ukrainian Labor Party whose leader, Evhen Herasymenko has called for purging of the nation of “sludge.” He recently told the Associated Press attacking dark skinned foreigners is like “the immune system–the reaction of a healthy body to the infection that got into it.”

Many human rights groups blame government inaction for allowing hate crimes to persist. The Ukraine obviously had no contact with dark skinned people in its history but some Ukrainians appear fearful of the presence of a person with dark skin. The US Embassy has alerted Americans of the presence of hate crime in the Ukraine.