The Podil Police Department has detained two men after receiving a phone call about a fight and a shooting on the northwestern outskirts of the Ukrainian capital late on July 19.
The victims of the attack were three foreign students from the Democratic Republic of the Congo studying at Kyiv National University of Construction and Architecture, who said they were attacked due to the color of their skin.
While the students were waiting for a taxi after they left a pharmacy, five drunk men allegedly started to harass them. The offenders ran up to their car shouting, “Blacks, what are you doing here?” Then they pulled the students out from the car and started to beat them.
One of the attackers even fired a gun into the air several times and once at the car, smashing its front windshield. The sound of the shooting led local residents to call the police.
According to Podil District Police spokesperson Anna Strashok, police officers found cartridge cases at the scene, but it is still unknown who fired the gun.
As soon as the attackers heard the police siren, they ran away. But police subsequently arrested two of them in the nearby woods as they reportedly loudly discussed how they had beaten foreigners and how they had destroyed the car.
They explained to police officers that they “had never seen people with this skin color and just wanted to meet,” the Espreso TV channel reported.
Later, the students recognized the two attackers, who turned out to be 24- and 23-year-old men originally from Rivne Oblast in western Ukraine.
If found guilty of hooliganism and violating the students’ rights based upon their race and nationality, the attackers may spend up to four years in prison.
According to 2019 research by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology, Ukrainians are most intolerant toward Africans and people of Roma ethnicity. They have the most tolerant attitudes toward Belarusians, according to the survey of 2,035 respondents living across the country.
At the same time, the number of cases of racially-motivated violence in the country was much lower in 2019 compared to 10 years ago.