The murder of the Roma in Lviv: Ukraine will have to choose a side

The series of Roma pogroms in Ukraine predictably has reached the level of murders. On the night of Saturday, June 24, a group of neo-Nazis attacked the Roma camp on the outskirts of Lviv. A 24-year-old man’s belly was cut open, several more people were hospitalized, including a 10-year-old child — he and his mother were cut with a knife.

A group of male aged 17-18 years are attackers. The media say the instigator was 20-year-old Andrei Tychka, found through a job search site. Tychka has secondary special education, and three months work experience. The initiative of the attackers is called «Sober and Evil Youth», which clearly indicates their belonging to the neo-Nazi subculture, which adopted this initially innocuous slogan from antifa straight-stage hardcore scene.

Suspected Adrei Tychka

The motive of racial hatred is also obvious: the social networks of «sober and evil» are full of Hitler’s quotes and calls to kill. According to the human rights activist Olga Vesnyanka, the two attackers have already been released.

Here are examples of materials published by the group’s telegram channel:

«Fagots, do you not think that our vocation is to bash your clowns and then read about Avakov’s curs from National Corps? No, we are engaged in this for pleasure and fun, so in the video we «are dancing» with local «acidheads»… You have taken too much on yourself. If someone takes it in the neck it is not necessarily you».

«Lviv will be nationalistic or deserted»

«In Dnipro patriots patriots caught the left radical»

Far-right web resources have already been collecting money to help «prisoners of conscience». The card for donations belongs to someone born in 1990, named Tabaka Yuri Zenovievich. He served in National Guard «Azov» regiment and is one of the founders of the public organization Lviv veteran brotherhood.

The situation of Roma in Ukraine

According to the 2001 population census, there were 47,587 Roma in Ukraine, which is one thousandth of the population. In this case, according to experts, these figures are understated by several times — they are in fact, 200-400 thousand. Only a small part, up to five thousand of them, are engaged in labor migration from Transcarpathia, where they do not have work, to other regions, and we see them in tents in parks or railway stations.

Even under Yanukovych, in 2013, a strategy was adopted to protect and integrate the Roma ethnic minority until 2020. The action plan consists of 56 items, but funding for their implementation has not been allocated. This means that the integration of the Roma is their own business. Volunteers also work with the Roma, in particular, from the organization «Youth for Peace», but their efforts and resources are clearly not enough. In the Transcarpathian region there is a regional strategy for the integration of the Roma, and it is allocated money from the regional budget. However, according to the Roma activist Zola Kondur, the regional administration prefers to spend this money for the solemn celebration of the International Roma Day on April 8th.

More than 60% of Roma do not work, and more than 30% of their children do not attend schools. The problem in this case often looks like this: even if a Roma child gets to school, instruction there will take place in an unknown language (one third of Roma do not know Ukrainian), the child stays there chewing the fat at the desk and is discriminated against by classmates and teachers. Therefore, a quarter of Ukrainian Roma have absolutely no education, another third have not finished secondary education, and only 1% of them has  higher education. In regions where the percentage of Roma population is high, children go to schools, but they are often hounded out to worse schools, and so creating «educational segregation.» Zola Kondur also talks about segregation in medical institutions — separate wards for Roma women and children.

At the same time, the stereotype of criminal Romas doesn’t correspond to reality — the crime rate in this group is twice as low as that in the «big» society. But even the existing level cannot be the reason for pogroms and «solutions to the Roma question». It is quite obvious that people who are not provided with an honest job due to a lack of qualifications and documents haven’t got many ways to subsist themselves. The rhetoric of free choice expressed by people who have been provided with documents and secondary education by their parents is not appropriate. In the light of the mayhem and hate-motivated murders, the issues of Roma crime is an attention diversion on the part of neo-Nazism.

Olga Zhmurko, the head of the Roma program of the International Renaissance Foundation, calls manipulation and provocation all the talk that Roma people, who allegedly, want to live on their own. She insists on the existence of effective integration programs for the Roma minority and requires the state to provide funding for such activities.

Crimes based on «Romaphobia»

In recent years, a number of cases have been known where «Romophobia» has became the basis for acts of hatred. In February 2014, a group of fifteen men with weapons and masks attacked the Roma settlement in Korosten, Zhytomyr region. The Romas were threatened with reprisals if they did not leave the city. The police didn’t appeared at all.

May 16, 2017 in Kharkiv region Vilshany the head of the local Roma community Nikolai Kaspitsky was killed, and eight others were injured from traumatic weapons. Alexei Litvinov, the former head of the rural council of Vilshany, the father of the current head and a deputy of the Kharkiv regional council, is allegedly suspected of the murder.

The Roma pogrom in the village of Loshchinovka, Odessa region, which was held in August 2016, has not yet been properly investigated. Then, after the body of an eight-year-old girl with signs of violent death was found on the outskirts of the village, the suspicion fell on a local resident of Roma nationality. After that, a pogrom took place in the village, in which about 300 people took part. One house was set on fire, in others glass was broken and furniture damaged. The Ukrainian part of the village appealed to local authorities with the demand the eviction and relocation of the Roma section to somewhere far away, and several Roma families left the village. At the same time, the forensic examination allegedly provides grounds to believe that the suspect in the murder Mikhail Chebotar is innocent, and the girl was raped and killed by her own relative who witnessed the case.

The pogrom of the Roma camp on Bald Mountain by the far-right organization c14

In Kiev on April 20th this year, the neo-Nazi formation of C14 perpetrated the pogrom of the Roma settlement on Bald Mountain. A month later, an activist of the organization Sergei Mazur, who posted information about the pogrom, went to the interrogation, and that’s all for now (Mazur was recently arrested). In May, there were two more Roma pogroms — May 9th in Rudno Lviv region and May 22nd in the Vysokogayevsky forest near Ternopil. On May 24th, representatives of the Kharkov Prosecutor’s Office raided the office of the lawyer working on the murder in Vilshany, beat him and demanded that he stop doing this work.

In all cases, effective work of law enforcement agencies is not visible. Olga Vesnyanka insists that the police don’t render assistance to the victims, the affairs are hushed up, and the situation is reminiscent of the Wild West because of the lack of control.

The prospects

— If you like Gypsies very much, take them to your home.

— If things go on that way, we will really start hiding Roma in our homes. And if you like neo-Nazis so much, take them to your home. Let them set up a concentration camps in your yard.

Ukrainian society now has to somehow make a decision. In the Third Reich, as is well known, the genocide of Roma and Sinti was carried out on the same grounds as the genocide of the Jews. The neo-Nazis of modern Ukraine, as can be seen from the above, continue to attack this minority. Therefore, it is not possible to hide behind the assertion that «this is completely different,» or that «Roma are being thrown on social grounds,» as the «talented ones» manage to declare, it will not work out. We have to choose a side in the confrontation.

In my own feed, fortunately, it’s quieter now than after the pogrom on April 20th. Apparently, the remnants of conscience among citizens help them to keep their mouths shut.

/translated by Nastacia Khvora

Original text here

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