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KHGP to investigate possible harassment of foreign students in Kharkiv


Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group’s Co-Chair Yevhen Zakharov announced on Thursday, 28 December at a meeting of the Kharkiv Press Club that the human rights group was investigating cases involving harassment of foreign students in the city.

He said that the circumstances of the case had not yet been fully clarified, but that the human rights group had decided to take action after receiving complaints from foreign students.  The students say that during the second half of 2006 they have experienced “systematic persecution on racial grounds” and are frightened to walk around the streets (previously there were only isolated incidents of harassment). In November 2006, for 2-3 Saturdays in a row there were night marches by young people holding candles and chanting “Ukraine for Ukrainians” near the student hostels on Tsepynohradska St.  Public order was maintained by the police. After the marches ended, the police went into the hostels to warn the students that it was better not to go out since excesses were possible. The participants in the march dispersed in groups and beat up any foreigners they met. There are reports from people from Asian and African countries who described such excesses and also presented videos (of poor quality). The problem is that the people who have turned to KHPG are frightened to go to the police and ask that their names are not revealed, which makes the investigation difficult. It is known that on 25 November a foreign student from the National Pharmacology University was beaten up. The Dean of the student’s faculty wrote a report to the police and the culprits were found and are now awaiting trial. The university has fully paid for the student’s medical treatment. “If all the students were more active and complained, it would be better since the police would look for the culprits”, Yevhen Zakharov stressed.

According to the Group’s information, the protest near the hostels on Tsepynohradska St. was organized by a students’ organization to supposedly demonstrate that our students live worse than foreign students. Yevhen Zaharov comments: “I don’t believe that you’ll find civic organizations and student enthusiasts who will go on marches at midnight just like that.  I’m afraid that this matter should be looked into by the SBU [State Security Service]. That is, it’s some kind of orchestrated protest and somebody really wants us to look bad, that’s the impression one has”.

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