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Olena Shevchenko

HRD, Chairperson

Olena Shevchenko is a prominent woman human rights defender and community organizer from Ukraine, working on advancing LGBTIQ and women’s rights. Olena Shevchenko is the Chairperson of Insight, an NGO that focuses on promoting and protecting the rights of LGBTIQ persons in Ukraine. The woman human rights defender is also a European Representative at the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA World), the co-chair of the European Lesbian* Conference, and a co-chairperson of the Coalition Against Discrimination in Ukraine.

Before the escalation of the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine and the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula by the Russian Federation, the key concerns regarding the situation of human rights defenders (HRDs) in Ukraine were characterised mainly by systemic impediments to the rights to freedom of assembly, association, and personal liberty. In many cases, HRDs were subjected to intimidation, harassment, and attacks, while violence against journalists was tolerated by the authorities. The situation was exacerbated by pervasive corruption in all branches of government and limitations on workers’ rights to strike.

Although human rights organisations that work for the protection of the rights of different minority groups (such as LGBTI, ethnic, national, and racial groups) still face obstacles (refusal of permission and protection) in their enjoyment of the rights to freedom of assembly and may be subjected to attacks from radical groups, the government that came into power in 2015 has significantly increased its support for their work as compared to their predecessors.