At least nine people, including five police officers, were injured on Saturday as clashes broke out in Kiev between approximately 300 gay rights marchers and members of a far-right nationalist group.
Video footage from the Ukrainian capital shows the attackers, many of them clad in black balaclavas, throwing smoke bombs and tear gas as demonstrators march along the Dnipro River. Scuffles erupted as helmeted riot police formed a cordon to keep the violent counter-protesters away from the pride parade.
"This march shows that we exist. We are fighting for equal rights that, unlike others in Ukraine, we currently lack," a 31-year-old female attendee told AFP.
Dubbed the "March of Equality," the event was only the second one of its kind in Ukraine's post-Soviet history. Members of the Pravy Sektor (Right Sector) nationalist organization threatened to disrupt the protest, which was scheduled to last only 10 minutes out of security concerns, AFP reported.
On the eve of the protest, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said that he fully supported the marchers, but would refrain from attending the event. "I will not be taking part," he said. "But I see no grounds for someone to try and disturb it, since this is the constitutional right of every Ukrainian citizen."