A group of assailants believed to be neo-Nazis were captured on video in a frightening and violent attack on a gay bar in Ukraine over the weekend, and police have been criticized for their flaccid response to previous attacks.
According to a report in RT, an estimated 20 or more masked men broke windows, destroyed furniture, shouted homophobic slurs, tossed tear gas canisters, physically assaulted security guards with their fists and retractable batons, and tried to force their way into the HvLv gay bar in the capital city of Kiev last Friday, November 27. Police later arrested 12 suspects, but the owners of HvLv criticized police on social media, saying this was only the latest in a series of organized attacks on the bar in which the authorities have shown little interest in stopping.
“For three weeks, the HvLv Bar has been regularly attacked by unknown individuals,” reads a translation of the bar management’s post to Instagram describing the incident.
“Today, after three weeks of inaction by law enforcement agencies and continued threats to the bar from unknown individuals, there was a physical attack on our institution and employees,” the post continued. “What to expect next? We demand immediate intervention of the National Police of Ukraine and personally of Denis Monastyrsky.”
Video of the attack shows a frightening scene as the group of masked men swarmed the bar, forcing patrons to escape to the relative safety of the bar’s interior. As the men destroyed the furniture outside, they yelled several homophobic and anti-LGBTQ+ slurs at the terrified folks hiding inside.
“The bartenders managed to lock the door, but the door began to break,” the post continued. “Visitors held the door so that unknown people could not get inside.”
Some hid in the bathrooms to escape the tear gas thrown through the broken windows.
Staff quickly called police as the attackers outside chanted ‘death to the f*gg*ts’, ‘white power,’ and ‘let’s get the f*gg*ts.’ The attack lasted about five minutes, and the crowd dispersed not long after staff and patrons prevented the attackers from gaining entrance to the bar. Police arrived a short time later and initiated an investigation. They later arrested 12 suspects on suspicion of “hooliganism.”
While the damage to HvLv was extensive, the bar itself survived the assault and will not let the slew of attacks stop them from serving the needs of the local LGBTQ+ community. While warning others to never go out alone after dark, they encouraged patrons to return to the bar as a sign of solidarity and resolve.
“The best support for us will be your presence in the bar, because the more of us — the less chance our opponents have,” the bar posted this week. “Come for a beer, a party, or a dinner (maybe you haven't heard, our kitchen menu has been updated).”