Ukraine: Police Treatment of Foreigners Raises Concerns Ahead of Euro 2012

According to – a leading Counter Strike 1.6 coverage site – Ukrainian police assaulted [ENG] gamer Baljit “zE-” Lal, who came to Kyiv to participate in the Intel Extreme Masters European Championship.

Reportedly, police officers stopped the Danish player outside a club in Ukraine's capital and asked him to show his passport. Baljit Lal did not have the document with him, and was taken to the nearest station, where the policemen asked him for money in return for his release. Upon learning that the player had no cash, the policemen punched him twice and then released half an hour later.

The story on drew mass attention from the website’s users, with representatives of more than 20 countries leaving over 580 comments. Many have expressed their shock and outrage.

User 4v3 from Ukraine writes:

Rly sad… it is the shame for all ukrainians

User marrrk writes:

[…] I’m French and I must say I’m quite shocked to see that in some countries pple may have to [bribe] the police just to be in peace

Some users, however, did not seem so surprised by the incident. Tiago Soares (tiggieLOLCAT) from Australia writes:

Welcome to eastern europe guys :) PS – No hate intended with this comment

User ygos? from Estonia agrees:

[…] These things happen when you are living in a free world and happen to be abroad in not so free world.

User wynn from Denmark wonders if the color of the gamer’s skin had anything to do with the incident:

[…] Anyone know if there was racism involved as well? :(

His concerns are seconded by user APS89 from India:

I dont want to offend anyone but I have heard if you are not white then you get picked upon alot in Eastern european countries like russia, ukraine etc. […] If ZE was white maybe then the police wouldn't have assaulted him

User naffanya from Kyiv, Ukraine, explains:

If you are a foreign person in Ukraine, look like an Asian and don't have the pasport, you may have troubles with them [the police]. […]

While has also noted [ENG] that the police tried the same extortion trick on the German player Roman “roman” Ausserdorfer, naffanya’s suspicions about xenophobia among Ukrainian policemen are not groundless.

For instance, the recent detention of Ukrainian journalist Mustafa Nayem [UKR] has sparked a nation-wide discussion after the journalist mentioned [RUS] that the police justified their actions by his non-Slavic appearance.

The episode was perceived as especially alarming since Ukraine is currently preparing to co-host the 2012 European Football Championship together with Poland.

Users of the Ukrainian e-business and social media marketing website, which covered [UKR] the incident with Baljit Lal, have also actively commented on the story.

Ihor Vispyanskiy writes [UKR]:

Треба знати в кого можна вимагати гроші, а в кого нє :) А взагалі смішного тут мало. На його місці може бути будь-хто. Та й навіть, якщо когось і покарають, то це нічого не змінить в цілому. […] Welcome to Ukraine! Як злодії не обкрадуть, по міліція.

[They] should know better from whom [they] can and cannot try to extort money :) But actually, this isn’t too funny. Anyone can be in his [Lal’s] place. And even if someone does get reprimanded for that, it won’t change the overall situation. […] Welcome to Ukraine! If the thieves do not rob you, the police will.

Another user, Vladyslav Bogutsky, ironizes [UKR]:

Українська міліція: підготовка до Євро 2012.

Ukrainian police: preparing for Euro 2012.

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