06/13/2012 09:48 EDT | Updated 08/13/2012 05:12 EDT

Groups: Racially motivated crimes on the rise in Ukraine amid Euro 2012 boycott calls

KIEV, Ukraine - A group of European human rights organizations says racially motivated crimes are on the rise in Ukraine amid calls on fans to boycott European Championship matches played in the country.

Ukraine's government has angrily denied allegations that the country is inherently racist. Officials have promised that all fans coming to Euro 2012 matches in Ukraine would be greeted with open arms.

But a recent study of racism and xenophobia conducted by the Eurasian Jewish Congress shows the number of hate crimes rose from 37 in 2009 to 48 in 2011.

Human rights activist Yevhen Zakharov said Wednesday the rise can be attributed in part to the severe economic crisis in Ukraine.