Home­grown prob­lems

Kyiv Post - - Opinion -

On June 23, a band of teenagers at­tacked a Roma camp near Lviv. It was the lat­est in a se­ries of un­pro­voked at­tacks on Roma en­camp­ments around Ukraine this year, but this tragedy was the blood­i­est: A 24-yearold was stabbed to death. Seven more, in­clud­ing a ten-year-old boy, were in­jured.

This ris­ing vi­o­lence, and the fear-mon­ger­ing, hate­ful rhetoric that of­ten goes with it, can seem like it’s from a by­gone era. And yet, dis­like and sus­pi­cion of Roma re­main com­mon­place in Ukrainian so­ci­ety. Many feel that Roma are thieves, swindlers, and so­cial de­gen­er­ates who had it com­ing.

But that’s no jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for the de­nial and in­ac­tion that have ac­com­pa­nied th­ese at­tacks — for the po­lice dis­in­ter­est, and, this week, for the promi­nent politi­cians who have broadly im­plied that Rus­sia and Rus­sian agents are be­hind the at­tack.

It may be com­fort­ing to be­lieve that Rus­sian money or in­flu­ence stand be­hind the June 23 sav­agery — but as of yet, this is un­sub­stan­ti­ated. A Belling­cat re­port hand­ily demon­strates that the so­cial net­work “Sober and An­gry Youth” has chap­ters all over Ukraine, Rus­sia and Be­larus. You don’t need to look to the Krem­lin to find racist, vi­o­lent, neo-Nazi ide­olo­gies — and their ad­her­ents.

Ha­tred of Roma is, un­for­tu­nately, home­grown. And even if those Lviv teenagers had some­how been re­cruited into the at­tack by Rus­sian se­cret ser­vices, their ac­tions played on a his­tory of prej­u­dice that Ukraine must con­front and solve.

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