A gay Ukrainian activist and soldier says LGBTQ+ community members in Kharkiv found Russian soldiers in a basement they use and took the soldiers captive.
Viktor Pilipanko told Israel Hayom, “This is our war, the Ukrainians, but we have also been fighting as LGBTQ people, and I'm sure that the comrades in Kharkiv understood that.”
He added, “We are confronting a tyrannical, homophobic enemy.”
The account has not been independently verified. However, LGBTQ+ people in the besieged country have been lining up to fight against Russia’s invading forces or to help with medical and food aid to those displaced or at the frontlines.
One such volunteer, Veronika Limina, had been running a combat and paramedic skills training camp for LGBTQ+ volunteers leading up to the invasion last week.
“I am angry,” she told The Daily Beast. “We will kill Putin.”
Limina works for an NGO that promotes the rights of LGBTQ+ people in the Ukrainian military. She told the outlet that even if Ukraine doesn’t support LGBTQ+ rights, Russia is not a leading alternative.
“We are very conscious of the threats which we have faced — as both Ukrainians and LGBT+ people. We understand that the Russian occupation would mean total lawlessness and repressions — we see it right now in the Ukrainian-occupied territories of Crimea and Donbas,” said Andrii Kravchuk, of the LGBTQ+ Nash Svit Center in Kyiv.
“Now we have only two options: Either we defend our country, and it will become a part of the free world, or there will not be any freedom for us and will not be Ukraine at all,” he added.
The activist told The Daily Beast that while the war between Ukraine and Russian-backed separatists has been going on since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, it’s now a full-scale invasion.
“Many LGBT+ activists, who have an experience of participation in the Euromaidan events, are joining the Territorial Defense forces or holding training in paramedical help,” Kravchuk said. “LGBT+ people who served in the army and military volunteers are ready to come back to their service. We are doing the same as the rest of the nation.”