Ukraine LGBT advocate welcomes closer ties to Europe - Interview by Washington Blade
Olena Shevchenko of Insight, a Ukrainian LGBT advocacy group, was among the hundreds of thousands of people who protested in Kiev’s Independence Square against then-President Viktor Yanukovych’s decision last fall to reject an agreement that would have brought his country closer to the European Union.
The demonstrations that began last November were initially peaceful, but they grew increasingly violent as protesters demanded an end to government corruption and human rights abuses in the former Soviet republic.
Shevchenko said a friend was shot in the leg during violent clashes in the square known as Maidan in February that left dozens of people dead and hundreds of others injured. She said another friend’s mother is “almost blind” after she was beaten.
“All those killings were really scary, but we didn’t realize that because you are trying to protect yourself and your friends and somebody next to you was shot,” Shevchenko told the Washington Blade during an April 9 telephone interview from Worcester, Mass., where she is attending a leadership program for human rights advocates. “You just don’t get it. It’s just a protest.”