“In a shameless display of feeble deference to the Mayor of Moscow, a court in the Russian capital today upheld Mayor Luzhkov’s ban of the fifth attempted Moscow Gay Pride parade. The judge acted in defiance of the Russian constitution, which guarantees freedom of expression and the right to protest.
“This is a sad day for Russian democracy. It is the latest of many suppressions of civil liberties that happen in supposedly democratic Russia. Many other protests are also denied and repressed, not just gay ones. Autocracy rules under President Medvedev,” said human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who is in Moscow for the fourth time to support Russian gay rights activists.
“The EU and western embassies are hypocrites. They support Gay Pride events in Poland and Latvia, but not in Russia. The UK and US governments have not protested to the Russian authorities. Their ambassadors to Russia have offered no support to the Moscow Pride organizers. They have ignored suggestions that they host Gay Pride events in their embassy grounds and that they fly the gay rainbow flag on Moscow Pride day, 29 May.
“On the eve of the banned march, activists are arriving in Moscow from all parts of Russia, to join the Saturday parade. We are being billeted in secret locations across the city. To outwit the FSB security services, who have previously tried to locate Gay Pride activists by tracing their mobile phones, we have surrendered our mobiles and been issued with brand new Russian sim cards.
“I am holed up with a group of activists in an apartment in Moscow. We’ve been asked to remove all badges and ribbons that might identify us as gay or as activists. All the beds and sofas, and much of the floor space, is taken up with activists form far and wide. Everyone is messing in to organize food and household chores.
“We are ready and determined to make a stand for gay rights and the right to protests. The courage and resolve of the Russian LGBT activists is really inspiring. We’ll take whatever the authorities, and neoNazis, throw at us. We are hoping for no arrests and no assaults, but we are ready for the worst,” said Mr Tatchell.