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Amnesty International has slammed what it called the "repeated inaction" by Ukrainian police over attacks on the country's LGBT community. (file photo)

Members of a far-right Ukrainian group disrupted an LGBT event in Kyiv on May 10 without Ukrainian police intervening to stop their actions, Amnesty International said in a May 11 statement.

The open public event was scheduled at a privately hired venue -- Underhub -- with representatives from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch due to address the gathering.

The event could not begin because of the arrival of some 20 far-right activists, who threatened the participants with violence unless they left.

They were joined by one of the owners of the venue who ordered the organizers to cancel the event and leave the premises.

Five police officers were present but refused to intervene, Amnesty said in a May 11 statement.

"Only after the arrival of a group of City Patrol Police more than an hour later were the participants able to safely leave the venue, without the meeting taking place or any arrests being made," Amnesty said.

The statement did not identify the far right group to which the perpetrators belonged.

"Given the police’s repeated inaction over such attacks, it is no surprise that members of Ukrainian far-right groups take full advantage of their impunity -- repeatedly attacking individuals and groups whose views or identity they dislike," said Denis Krivosheev, deputy director of Amnesty International’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia regional office.

Amnesty said that at least 30 such attacks orchestrated by members of far-right groups on women's rights defenders, LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender), and left-wing activists and Romany families have occurred in recent months in Ukraine.

The perpetrators act with almost complete impunity in most cases and are often bragging online about their deeds.

"In just one case, an attack on the Festival of Equality in the city of Zaporizhia in September 2017, the perpetrators were arrested and put on trial," the statement said.

“For the authorities in Ukraine to tolerate such incidents -- many of which have been violent and resulted in injuries -- and fail to prosecute the perpetrators shows a shameful disregard for the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.”

Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny walks out of a court building in Moscow on May 11.

A Moscow court opened a hearing in a case against Aleksei Navalny over nationwide protests but swiftly rescheduled it for May 15, prompting sardonic criticism from the opposition politician.

Navalny was detained at a rally in Moscow on May 5, one of dozens of demonstrations organized by supporters across Russia to protest President Vladimir Putin's inauguration to a new six-year term two days later.

The vocal Putin foe was released hours later but is charged with repeatedly violating regulations for public gatherings and refusing to comply with police. He could be jailed for 45 days if found guilty of the two administrative violations.

Navalny told journalists after the hearing that "what happens in court actually has nothing to do with the judgment" in the case, which he suggested would be made by Putin and handed down to the court.

"I think there's just no decision yet. Putin is busy," Navalny tweeted later.

He joked that after putting former sports minister Vitaly Mutko in charge of matters related to construction, Putin is busy trying to decide whether to name boxer Andrei Valuyev or conservative monarchist Natalya Poklonskaya as minister of science.

"And until he makes that decision, he has no time for me," Navalny added in the tweet.

Navalny was one of hundreds of people apprehended in Moscow and over 1,600 people detained nationwide during the May 5 protests, which he dubbed "He's Not Our Tsar."

Foreign governments criticized the arrests and the conduct of police during the demonstrations, in which officers and men in Cossack-style uniforms in several cities beat protesters with truncheons and dragged them along the ground.

Russian journalist and commentator Maksim Shevchenko announced on May 10 that he is quitting Putin's advisory Human Rights Council over its refusal to convene for a meeting focusing on the dispersal of protests.

Announcing his decision to quit the council, Shevchenko said that the "mass arrests of citizens and their brutal beating by unknown armed units in the center of the Russian capital require an open and high-profile meeting."

Vladimir Pozner, a prominent journalist who quit the council earlier, voiced support for Shevchenko's decision and said that the advisory body is "not an independent structure."

Navaly, who has already served several jail terms on charges related to organizing antigovernment protests, was carried away from the rally in central Moscow by his arms and legs.

Putin, who has been president or prime minister since 1999, was sworn in for a new six-year term on May 7 after a landslide victory in a March 18 election.

The vote was marred by allegations of fraud and what international observers said was the lack of a genuine choice.

Navalny sought to challenge Putin but was barred from the ballot due to a conviction in a financial-crimes case that he and supporters contend was fabricated to keep him out of electoral politics.

With reporting by Mediazona, Meduza, and AFP

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.

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