September 13, 2019
To Whom It May Concern,
As prescribed by article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights and extensively recommitted both by the Ukrainian government and the European Union in the Association Agreement, the freedom of assembly is an essential part of a free and prosperous Ukraine.
It is in this context that I find the recent development concerning the free and safe organisation of Kharkiv Pride – as undertaken by the local authorities of Kharkiv – worrying.
As an expert in the transnational politics of the civil rights movement for sexual and gender minorities in Eastern Europe, I have come across several backlashes for the LGBTI-community in recent years. The vast majority of these backlashes have been orchestrated through state homophobia directed from the Russian government. In countries like Georgia, Moldova, and Hungary, the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies (RISI) was able to successfully consolidate anti-LGBTI forces in high-level politics.
Given the ongoing history of Ukraine with the aggressiveness of RISI-led intelligence operations in Crimea and the Donbas region, I strongly call upon the Kharkiv City Council to not further strengthen those anti-LGBTI forces who are often in direct contact with and support by Russian intelligence operations.
Upon the wish of the Kharkiv City Council – I am offering my assistance to provide a safe and free organisation of Kharkiv Pride on September 15 whenever demanded. The universality and indivisibility of human rights is important to all Ukrainians.