Football, violence and neo-Nazism: attacks in Ukraine
Attack in Kyiv. You can see a group of young louts kicking their victim who is lying on the asphalt
Worrying reports of attacks by football louts with an extreme rightwing twist, as well as disturbing failure by the police to protect those under attack
Viacheslav Likhachev reports that on Sunday evening, 22 July, a group of football louts supporting Dynamo and Obolon clubs attacked a group of Arsenal fans who were heading by trolleybus to the stadium where a match was scheduled between Arsenal and Dynamo.
The assailants stopped the trolleybus and began brutally beating up the Arsenal fans. They heavily outnumbered the latter and also used various weapons, including gas canisters, shock pistols and broken pipes) and other items. There were around 60 assailants and about 20 of the Arsenal fans received mild injuries, including from shock pistols. Four people received medical assistance, with two being hospitalized and one undergoing an operation (removal of a kidney).
The author points out that the upbeat noises from the police about their swift response are not borne out by video footage taken by a passer-by. That shows that the police only arrived at the end of the confrontation and did nothing to stop the assailants continuing to beat their “opponents” lying on the ground. The police detained only Arsenal fans, allowing the Dynamo and Obolon fans to disappear from the scene.
“One can assume with a fair degree of certainty that the incident had political overtones. Many Arsenal fans are known for their anti-fascist position, while the vast majority of Ukrainian football hooligans, including Dynamo and Obolon fans, hold extreme rightwing views. In Kyiv Arsenal fans are alone in openly stating that racism is unacceptable at the stadiums (this position is also held in the regions by some Dnipro fans).”
The author points out that this is not the first time that far-right football fans have carried out such ideologically motivated attacks on Arsenal fans.
This interpretation is borne out by the fact that during Sunday evening’s match between Dynamo and Arsenal, the Dynamo fans hung a banner reading “Death antifa” with a Celtic Cross, the most common international neo-Nazi symbol used among the far-right milieu linked with football.
Likhachev says that it is also important to note that the attacks by rightwing assailants on Antifa supporters are more brutal than the standard football-linked confrontations. A lot of the extreme rightwing football fans consider certain rules, for example, banning the use of weapons, don’t apply in the case of run-ins with Antifa.
A criminal investigation was initiated on 23 July over the incident (under Article 296 § 4 of the Criminal Code – hooliganism).
There was also an incident on 21 July in Lviv, following a match involving the local football club Karpaty whose fans are known for their far-right views. Then a group of neo-Nazis attacked the Bukovsky Club where a concert was being given by Ukrainian and Hungarian groups. The assailants first went for a group leaving the event, then burst into the premises and began beating up all those present. They used gas canisters, empty bottles, stones and other items. Witnesses say that the assailants also had knives. Police turned up after the attack had ended.
Several people, including the Hungarian musicians were seriously injured. One of the concert goers needed an operation to remove a pied of glass from his eye and the doctors believe he has lost sight in that eye.
Although the concert was not of a political nature, some of the groups performing are known for their anti-fascist views. The victims recognized their assailants as being members of the informal extreme right movement “Autonomous rightwingers”. Some had Karpaty symbols on their clothes and almost all were dressed in the football-linked mode. The assailants chanted “Sieg heil!” and other Nazi slogans during the attack.
There is no information regarding a criminal investigation having been launched.
From the report by Viacheslav Likhachev here