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15th November 2018, 15:27:17 UTC

Vitalina Koval has always wanted to make a positive difference. She uses her incredible energy to support local LGBTI people in her home city, Uzhgorod. But she and other activists have been violently attacked by far-right groups, just for speaking out against hate.

On 8 March 2018, Vitalina organized a peaceful demonstration for women’s and LGBTI rights to mark International Women’s Day. The police reassured her that she and her fellow demonstrators would be safe.

On the day, a group shouted insults and hurled red paint, and Vitalina received chemical burns to her eyes. Her attackers were detained briefly but released just hours later. Afterwards, Vitalina and others received further threats, and two activists reported that they were beaten up.

There has still been no effective investigation into what happened on 8 March. The attacks are part of a wider surge in violence and intimidation by far-right groups in Ukraine, who claim the inclusive values supported by people like Vitalina are “unhealthy”. But Vitalina and human rights defenders like her won’t give into fear and hate. Let’s stand with them.

Tell Ukraine to protect Vitalina and other activists defending women’s and LGBTI rights.

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