‘Now the whole world sees that Odessa is really an open and safe city. A city in which there is a place for all.’
Ukraine held its first Pride March outside Kiev at the weekend – and it went without any major incidents.
On Saturday (13 August), between 50 and 100 marchers came together on the streets of Odessa, the country’s third-largest city, according to Hromadske International.
Authorities were initially resistant to allow the march, but in the end they reportedly only banned the group from taking their event to Shevchenko Park.
Journalist Vlasidlav Davidzon called on people to acknowledge the authorities’ decision to provide security, despite their initial attempts to ban the event.
Marching along the Primorsky Boulevard, with a rainbow banner stretched between them, the parade was protected by 700 officers of the national police.
Amongst them was Gia Lortkipanidze, police chief of the Odessa region, who stood on Dumskaya square to ensure the event went without provocations.
Sakashvilli’s chief of police Lortkipanidze was on Dumskaya square personally to make sure LGBT march passed without provocations.
On Friday, fearing for the marchers’ security, the organisers published safety instructions on Odessa Pride’s official Facebook, telling participants to ‘darling, party!’ before advising them to have ‘a sober look at all the possible risks’ involved with attending.
In the end, the event went ahead peacefully, without major disturbances or attack.
‘We thank the participants […] for the courage and faith in our city,’ the organisers wrote.
‘The march was safe, positive, and we believe this is a huge step in the future. Now the whole world sees that Odessa is really an open and safe city. A city in which there is a place for all.’
Geoffrey Pyatt, the United States Ambassador to Ukraine, called Odessa Pride ‘proof Ukraine is changing’.
Only once, police had to step in, as a group tried to attack the march.
They arrested 20 people, but according to the organisers, the marchers didn’t notice much beyond a few police officers and journalists running after someone.