On the eve of the Euro-2012 football championship the world press is full of bogeyman stories about Ukraine. First it was about expensive hotels, then it was about high risks of getting infectious diseases, and now they speak about racisms.

Foreign Ministry is concerned about the campaign, being held in British press, about allegedly racist moods in Ukraine.

According to FM spokesman Oleh Voloshyn Ukrainian society can be accused of anything but racism, as the majority part of European counties is way ahead of Ukraine on this issue.

UEFA tournament director in Ukraine Markian Lubkivski also refuted accusations, saying such statements were offensive, and asked the Foreign Ministry to react at the official level. According to the official, if fans manifest any signs of racisms, their football clubs will be disqualified.

ForUm has asked sociologists and politicians on whether the level of racism is really high in Ukraine or we are a tolerant national after all.

Olga Gerasimiuk, MP of Our Ukraine faction:

- Some days ago I was approached by a British MP and informed that Ukrainian skinheads were beating up German fans. He also told me it was not good for the country's image. Dutchwomen do not let their husbands go to Ukraine fearing our women. A PACE MP asked me whether we have cockroaches in hotels. The bottom line is that these re the results of the work on Ukraine's image, the government allocated so much money for. From the European center we have turned into a barbarian country.

Refat Chubarov, deputy head of Crimean Majlis:

- In my opinion the racist menace in Ukraine is not higher than in any European country. There are cases of violence due to the skin color, but these are single facts, not a mass phenomenon.

Such statements appear probably because Europe gets mostly negative information about Ukraine. Hence, British officials have decided to cover their backs and warn the fans just in case. Ukraine has many problems, but racism is not one of them.

Ali Aliyev, expert on Eastern countries:

- I've been living in Ukraine since 1986, I've studied in two institutes, but I've never come across the problem of racism. In Russia, for example, police officials ask to show passport if a person is of non-Slavic appearance. Ukraine does not have such practice. In my personal experience Ukrainians are very welcoming, and the hysteria of British politicians is a provocation and artificial aggravation of the situation.

Volodymyr Ohryzko, former foreign minister of Ukraine:

- I consider this problem artificially created and I totally disagree with the authors of the BBC program, which portrays us racist and xenophobes.

For that matter Ukraine is not the most problem country of Europe and the world. If you read foreign press you'll see numerous cases of intolerance towards people with different skin color, including in the European Union.

Stanyslav Kulchitski, Doctor of Historical Sciences, second director of Ukraine's institute of history:

- Despite the fact that Ukraine has always been an open house, out nation has never had racist habits. If there were some conflicts, they were of economic character.

They often say that Ukrainians are anti-Semites. True, there were cases of riots against Jews in 19th century, especial during the period of the civil war. But Ukraine isn't an exception in this. Similar events were happening all over Europe. Xenophobia is not among the characteristics of the Ukrainian nation. There are single cases, being hyperbolized by journalists sometimes. 

During Euro-2012 Ukraine will welcome mostly Europeans, but they visit Ukraine also without major events, as well as we go to them. Hence, I don't expect any problems with foreign fans.

Ludmyla Slusar, the leading research scientists of Ukraine's institute of demography and social researches:

- Ukrainians are rather tolerant nation. Even if there are some manifestations, the number is still lower than in other countries. Cases of intolerance happen also in Germany, France, Russia...We may have some separate incidents, but they happen rather rarely.

Iryna Bekeshkina, head of the "Democratic initiatives" fund:

- Ukrainians are very interesting nation. According to the social researches we are intolerant to people with different skin color, but public polls among people in the street proves that we are tolerant enough. Quite a paradox, don't you think.


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