Amnesty International is warning about what it says is an "alarming" rise in the number of violent attacks against foreigners and members of ethnic and religious minorities in Ukraine.
In a new report, Amnesty also criticizes the lack of adequate response from the authorities in Kyiv.
Amnesty cites statistics showing 60 racist attacks in Ukraine in 2007, with six of those attacks resulting in the deaths of the victims. In 2008 so far, there have been more than 30 racist incidents, it says, of which four were fatal.
"Anybody who looks different is at risk of attacks by members of the public or frequent document checks and racial profiling by the police,” says Nicola Duckworth, Amesty's Europe and Central Asia program director. “The Ukrainian authorities cannot afford to ignore xenophobia and social prejudice."
Amnesty says it met with officials in Kyiv this week to discuss their findings. The group says the talks failed to achieve a consensus view that racism is on the increase and is a serious problem that needs to be tackled in Ukraine.
“Racism and xenophobia are alive in reality, but invisible in official terms," Duckworth says.