On the morning of 11 January, a police intervention against Romani people took place in the Ukrainian town of Uzhhorod. The special police commando unit of the Ukrainian Interior Ministry, “Berkut”, broke into Romani dwellings in two localities, Radvanka and Telman, as well as other sites throughout Uzhhorod.
According to local Romani residents who witnessed the raid, police officers brutally beat men and women in their homes in front of their children while shouting racist insults and threats. Police are denying that any brutality occurred and have described the raid as a normal part of their investigation and prevention of crime. The Ukrainian media and the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) have been discussing the incident recently.
Several men beaten by the officers ended up in hospital, some with serious head injuries. Most were never charged with any crime and have since returned home. One man who had long suffered from tuberculosis passed away after the raid. News server Romea.cz was unable to learn whether the raid was the immediate cause of his death or not.
A resident of Uzhhorod who prefers to remain anonymous because he fears police reprisals confirmed the information reported by media outlets in the Zakarpattia region in a telephone interview with news server Romea.cz. According to his testimony, a raid was also performed in the Shachta quarter: “Police officers were not as brutal there and the local men managed to hide from the commando unit.”