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Mayor Abruptly Cancels Kiev Pride March

Mayor Abruptly Cancels Kiev Pride March

Mayor Abruptly Cancels Kiev Pride March

One day before the event, the mayor of Ukraine's largest city says he cannot protect Pride participants, leading to the event's cancellation.

Kiev mayor Vitali Klitschko said now is not the right time for a Pride march, but LGBT activists says peaceful freedom of assembly should never be stymied.

Klitschko forced the cancellation of the event, planned for Saturday, by denying police protection for participants. The city hosted its first equality march last year (pictured) and worked with authorities for months on this year's event, so LGBT activists see Klitschko's decision as a crushing disappointment (the event was cancelled in 2012 amid escalating antigay violence). The mayor also told march organizers that now was not the time for celebration.

"The country is confronted with many challenges — fighting a war in the east, organizing a new government and responding to Russian aggression but peaceful freedom of assembly cannot be denied, even in times of crisis," Brian Dooley of the group Human Rights First said in a statement.

"You can't have a hierarchy of human rights," Olena Shevchenko, co-chair of the organizing committee for Kiev Pride 2014, said in a statement. "It seems like it's never really the right time for LGBT rights."

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Neal Broverman