Sunday, 17 May 2009

Pink News: Moscow Gay Pride

BREAKING: Peter Tatchell among protesters arrested at Slavic Pride in Moscow by 'violent' anti-riot police

Between 20 and 40 activists have been arrested at Slavic Pride in Moscow by anti-riot police, early reports indicate.

According to a statement released by Pride organiser Nikolai Alekseev, violence was used to break up the peaceful march, which had been banned by Moscow authorities.

It was held to coincide with the Eurovision final which will be hosted by the city tonight. Attempts to hold a Pride march in previous years have been met with violence.

Among those arrested were British gay rights activist Peter Tatchell, and Chicago campaigner Andy Thayer. It is not yet clear how many campaigners braved threats of extremist violence to join the parade.

Nikolai Alekseev was allegedly held down by five armed riot officers and arrested.

In a statement, Alekseev called on artists due to perform at tonight's Eurovision final to boycott the event to "send a message that Russia's state oppression of human rights is not acceptable."

He continued: "The Russian Government is using this years Eurovision in Moscow as a gala showpiece to show the world how far the country has improved since the early 1990's. However, what was witnessed this afternoon on the streets of Moscow shows the world just how little Russia has travelled when it comes to supporting fundamental human rights.

"The police brutality that we witnessed here this afternoon is shocking. We planned a peaceful march to highlight the dire state of LGBT rights in Russia today. The police, given violent legitimacy by the openly homophobic Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov, did not hold back with their weapons, despite the world's media watching.

"We were defending the often violated human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Russians. We demand the same legal protection against discrimination and hate crimes that none LGBT people enjoy.

"This episode has shamed the Russian Government and Moscow authorities before the world."

Pink News: Moscow: Tatchell released from custody


Peter Tatchell has been released from police custody following his arrest this morning at Slavic Pride in Moscow.

The campaigner had been arrested along with around 20 other activists within five minutes of beginning their protest outside Moscow State University.

A post on his Twitter page states he was freed earlier today but it is not yet clear whether Slavic Pride organiser Nikolai Alekseev is still in custody.

It is thought that only 30 protestors joined the march after threats of violence from right-wing extremists. Some were arrested for doing little more than speaking to reporters.

According to a statement released earlier by the campaigners, violence was used to break up the peaceful march, which had been banned by Moscow authorities.

The statement also called on artists due to perform at tonight's Eurovision final to boycott the event to "send a message that Russia's state oppression of human rights is not acceptable."

When asked his opinion on the attitude of Moscow authorities towards the march yesterday, Eurovision host Graham Norton said: "I feel really bad, but I don't know very much about this."

Andrew Lloyd Webber, who composed the UK entry It's My Time, also professed ignorance, suggesting the march was banned due to traffic disruption.


The Guardian: Moscow riot police violently break up gay pride rally

Protest march banned by city authorities on eve of Eurovision song contest

16.5.9 by Associated Press

Moscow police violently dispersed a gay pride rally today that was banned by city authorities, drawing attention to Russia's record on gay rights as it prepares to host the Eurovision song contest.

About 30 activists gathered near a university in south-western Moscow to protest discrimination against gays and lesbians in Russia.

The group, which included British gay rights advocate Peter Tatchell, waved flags and chanted slogans, including: "Homophobia is a disgrace of this country!" and "We are demanding equal rights!"

After about a minute, riot police charged into the group and began to grab protesters, dragging them to waiting buses. Tatchell was talking with reporters when police started to haul him away. "This shows the Russian people are not free," he said.

Russian gay rights movement leader Nikolai Alexeyev was among those detained. After the demonstration, riot police detained other gay activists who appeared after the protest and were speaking with the media. As they hauled away Ksenia Prilebskaya, police ripped off her shirt and bra and roughly pushed her into a police bus.

City authorities had decided to ban the rally on the grounds that they believed it to be morally wrong. Moscow's mayor, Yuri Luzhkov, has described homosexuality as "satanic".

The detentions come as Moscow prepares to host the final of the Eurovision song contest. Some entrants have used the international competition to draw attention to gay rights in Russia, threatening to boycott the event if the gay pride parade was not allowed to happen.

At an earlier rally close to the centre of Moscow, about 50 demonstrators from nationalist and Orthodox Christian organisations denounced homosexuality. One man was detained when he accused officials in the Kremlin of being gay.

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