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27 Feb, 2022 18:05

Activists accuse Ukrainian authorities of abusing black people

Unconfirmed video footage shows guards pushing black people off trains, holding them at gunpoint
Activists accuse Ukrainian authorities of abusing black people

Unverified videos show crowds of black people physically blocked from boarding trains and held at gunpoint by guards in Ukraine. NAACP chief Bishop Talbert Swan and other activists have accused Ukrainian authorities of preventing the escape of black people stuck in the conflict-riven country. 

“White folks in Ukraine are: blocking Black people from getting on trains, dragging Black people off buses, denying shelter to Black people in freezing temperatures, and holding Black students at gunpoint,” Swan, a prominent US activist and leader of the Springfield chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), tweeted on Sunday.

Earlier, a number of videos circulated on social media showing what appeared to be Ukrainian law enforcement or military members linking arms to prevent black people from boarding a train, leaving them waiting outside, and in one scene apparently pointing weapons at them as they raise their hands.

The videos were shared under the hashtag “#AfricansinUkraine.”

It is unclear where the videos were filmed. One Twitter user who collected the videos described the scene involving armed guards as filmed at the Poland/Ukraine border, though RT has not been able to verify its authenticity.

Nigerian activist and World Health Organization envoy Dr. Ayoade Alakija claimed that she contacted her country’s foreign minister, who in turn contacted Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba. According to Alakija, the Ukrainian government then “directed their border guards that ALL foreigners should be allowed to leave.”

Neither Kuleba nor the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs have publicly commented on the allegations, or mentioned any new directives to border guards. However, Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs Geoffrey Onyeama confirmed that he spoke to Kuleba by phone, and received assurances that all foreigners would be allowed to leave Ukraine.

Pro-Ukrainian accounts on social media have claimed that videos of the alleged abuse were fabricated by Moscow. Swan refuted those claims, stating: “Black people don’t need Russian disinformation campaigns to convince us of the reality of white supremacy, racism, and anti-Black bigotry around the globe.”

As the images circulated online, delegations from Ukraine and Russia agreed to meet in Belarus for tentative negotiations, while Putin announced Russia's nuclear deterrent forces would be put on high alert over NATO's “aggressive statements."