Kiev - At least seven people were injured and more than 20 arrested in Kiev on Saturday as scuffles broke out between members of a rare Ukrainian gay pride march and their nationalist opponents.
The socially-conservative country - locked in a bruising war with pro-Russian insurgents - is seeking a closer alliance with Europe and remains keen to promote civil liberties freely enjoyed in much of the West.
Disrupt the protest
The "March of Equality" parade staged at a scenic stretch of the Dniepr River on the northern outskirts of Kiev - only the second march in Ukraine's post-Soviet history - was scheduled to last only 10 minutes out of security concerns.
Members of the Pravy Sektor (Right Sector) nationalist organisation - often seen spearheading the demonstrations that toppled a Russian-backed president last year - had on this occasion threatened to disrupt the protest and defend more conservative traditions.
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But around 100 activists still showed up for the rally after being informed of its location by the main organisers only a few hours in advance.
"This march shows that we exist. We are fighting for equal rights that, unlike others in Ukraine, we currently lack," said a 31-year-old woman.
"I am very frightened," she admitted. "But I am also very proud of myself - proud that I came out and so many people supported us."
The scuffles broke out when the police tried to keep a few dozen young men who had jumped out of a bus bearing Right Sektor insignia from attacking the peaceful marchers.
Ambulance workers said one police woman suffer a neck injury. The Kiev police department said five other officers and one far right group member were also slightly hurt.
The police statement added that 25 nationalists - many of them wearing black balaclavas - had been detained and taken in for questioning.