The armed conflict that flared up in eastern Ukraine in 2014 has led to a sharp increase in hate speech and anti-Russia rhetoric, the Council of Europe’s European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) said its report published on Tuesday.

The commission noted that the Law on Prevention and Combatting Discrimination enacted in Ukraine in 2012 “is largely in line with its recommendations, and that the introduction of provisions prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in the Labour Code in 2015 was a positive development.”

“While we welcome the progress achieved, there are issues that still give rise to serious concern,” said ECRI Chairperson Christian Ahlund. “The ongoing conflict in Ukraine has led to a sharp rise in hate speech over the past three years and has had a negative effect on vulnerable groups in general.”

The report notes that after Crimea’s reunification with Russia in March 2014 and the beginning of the armed conflict in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions of Ukraine “political discourse has been dominated by anti-Russia rhetoric.” But there have reportedly been few incidents of “harassment or abuse of individuals or groups on the basis of their Russian identity” in Kiev or other areas.

The authors of the report noted the problems with ensuring the rights of Roma people, internally displaced persons and LGBT persons in the country. “In 2014 and 2015, there was an increase in serious violence against LGBT persons. Racist violence committed by police continues to be reported, as well as their failure to intervene to stop racist and homophobic attacks.”

ECRI is a human rights body of the Council of Europe, composed of independent experts, specializing in problems of racism, xenophobia, antisemitism, intolerance and discrimination.

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