Scuffles broke out between police and anti-LGBT nationalist protesters at a gay pride parade in Kiev on Sunday.
Two officers were injured in confrontations with right-wing "ultranationalists" demonstrators, hundreds of whom showed up to hassle parade attendees and burn a rainbow flag, ABC reported. Six people were arrested.
Despite the protests, the parade was bright, celebratory, and full of dancing — as pride parades are wont to be. It was attended by around 2,500 people, Kiev police told press.
The parade was first held after a pro-Western government came to power in Ukraine, and is now in its fourth year. Such events had previously been censured by the country's pro-Russia government, which tended to align with Moscow's stance on social issues, including limiting LGBT rights.
One of the groups which organized the anti-LGBT protest, Right Sector, publicly warned pride attendees and police on Saturday that they would ensure the parade was a "bloodbath." But despite the flag-burning, the group's attempt to incite violence against paraders was seemingly unsuccessful, resulting only in a fracas with police.
A 2015 pride parade ended in clashes and violence between attendees and anti-LGBT protesters, as nationalists threw lit flares and smoke grenades at police.
This year, the Kiev police increased officer numbers and surrounded the marchers, protecting them from the protesters' attempts at violence. It seems to have worked.
The parade had a safer and more celebratory tone than in previous years, NPR reported. This was partially due to the increased police presence, but also has to do with a recent, liberal-leaning shift in Ukrainian social policy.
"This is more than just pride," one of the parade organizers, Maxim Erastavi, told NPR. "This is a big political event for so many countries in the region that is trying to escape the colonial orbit of Russia, and move back to the European family."
Ema O'Connor is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.
Contact Ema O'Connor at email@example.com.
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