Ukraine police hurt at Kiev gay pride rally

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Media caption,

Police fought running battles with the protesters

Five policemen have been injured in scuffles during a gay pride march in Ukraine's capital Kiev, officials say.

A BBC reporter says unidentified people attacked the rally alongside the Dnipro river with smoke bombs and stones.

Several people were arrested, Kiev's police say. At least one of the attackers was injured, reports say.

Ahead of the LGBT march, a number of Ukrainian politicians, including the radical Right Sector movement, had pledged to disrupt the event.

Kiev Mayor Vitaly Klitschko had called on the organisers of the Equality March to cancel the event to "avoid confrontation" in the capital.

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
Hundreds of police were deployed ahead of the Equality March
Image caption,
More than 20 people were reported to have been arrested

Hundreds of police officers were deployed to prevent clashes during Saturday's event.

But unidentified attackers later began throwing smoke bombs.

One of the policemen suffered "a serious neck injury", a Red Cross official at the scene was quoted as saying by the Interfax-Ukraine news agency.

Kiev police later said the officer was being treated in hospital.

Ukrainian lawmaker and journalist Serhiy Leshchenko wrote on Twitter that 25-30 "radicals" were arrested.

He also praised police for preventing "direct clashes" between gay activists and the radicals.

The rally finished shortly after the scuffles.

The Ukrainian authorities say the rights of sexual minorities are guaranteed and protected in the country.

But critics say homophobia is widespread and generally accepted in the predominantly Orthodox Christian nation.