Human Rights in Ukraine. Website of the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group
Interethnic relations

Xenophobia in Kyiv: first blood


Law enforcement agencies in Kyiv are investigating the murder of a Nigerian national Hodnoys Myevi. Human rights groups believe that this is the first murder in independent Ukraine committed on racial grounds.

47-year-old Hodnoys Myevi was killed a week ago, on the evening of 25 October near the Kyiv metro station “Poznaky”.  According to witnesses, he was set upon by five young men with short haircuts. Passers-by called the police and an ambulance but Mr Myevi had died from knife wounds in the back and his assailants had fled before help arrived. The head of the Ukrainian Section of the International Human Rights Committee Ihor Danilov is convinced that this was a racially motivated murder. “I think this was on racial grounds since they didn’t take 400 dollars that the victim had in his pocket. There was no theft, no mugging to steal something. There was simply a person walking along of a different race, and they knifed him in the back”.

The crime is being investigated by the prosecutor’s office of the Darnytsa district of Kyiv under the Article “Premeditated murder”.

Hodnoys Myevi had lived in Ukraine for a number of years. He had graduated from the Institute of National Economy, defended his PhD thesis in economics and was married to a Ukrainian. Over recent times there have been a number of attacks recorded in Ukraine on foreign nationals. For example on 31 October several young people beat up an Iranian woman student in Poltava. Attacks on Jewish people are also becoming more frequent.

Ukrainian human rights defender Semyon Gluzman comments: “It’s considered that cases involving lighter manifestations of xenophobia not connected with killing, but with beating somebody up on the street or other actions are connected with some kind of hooligan activity, although the motivation is clearly xenophobia. Of course there is such a danger, but I don’t think that it’s such a terrible danger, that there could be the sort of acts as in Moscow. It’s just that in Ukraine the population is more peaceable, and there aren’t such overt structures as in Moscow, I mean youth organizations”.

Philosopher Myroslav Popovych agrees with this. “Of course we don’t have some a scale of xenophobic sentiments as in Russia, but nonetheless it would be stupid to close our eyes to it. You can simply walk around courtyards and look at what’s written on the walls. The messages are there all the time, nobody notices them. They’re not washed or scraped off. Was even one criminal investigation launched on the basis of these messages?  I understand that this in principle is not typical, that there are not so many of such people, but that’s no argument.

Semyon Gluzman thinks that the work of the enforcement agencies in fighting xenophobia in Ukraine is inadequate. “I get the impression that there are no serious specialists in the Security Service [SBU], in political organizations, or in the police force.  This is very important and there needs to be cover agent work. You need to infiltrate such groups. You need to work like all normal countries work. law enforcement agencies pay a minimum amount of attention to that.”

Fellow Nigerian, the Head of the Assembly of God Church Sunday Adelaja, who has lived in Ukraine for many years, stated at a press conference on 1 November that “racial intolerance and demonstrations of xenophobia must become an issue not only of the law enforcement agencies, but in the first instance for Ukrainian society.”

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