Russia

Moscow Gay Pride march success

First full march, police outwitted, no arrests

Thirty Russian lesbian, gay and bisexual activists foiled the police and FSB security services by holding a 10 minute flashmob Gay Pride march on one of Moscow’s major thoroughfares, Leningradsky Street, this afternoon, Saturday 29 May.

Carrying a 20 metre long rainbow flag and placards in Russian and English calling for “Rights for gays”, the protesters chanted “No homophobia” and “Russia without homophobes.”

Photos, videos and a message from the Moscow Gay Pride organizer,
Nikolai Alekseev, here:
http://www.gayrussia.ru/en/news/detail.php?ID=15821

“The guerrilla-style hit-and-run Moscow Gay Pride march was over before the police arrived. When they turned up, officers scurried around aimlessly, searching for protesters to arrest. All escaped the police dragnet,” said British gay human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who joined today’s parade to support the Russian gay campaigners.

“All morning the Gay Pride organisers fed the police a steady stream of false information, via blogs and websites, concerning the location of the parade. They suggested that it would take place outside the EU Commission’s offices. As a result, the police put the whole area in total lockdown, closing nearby  streets and metro stations, in bid to prevent protesters assembling there.

“This was the fifth Moscow Gay Pride and the first one with no arrests and bashings. It was also the first time activists succeeded in staging an uninterrupted parade.

“The Russian gay activists have won a big political and morale victory. They staged their Gay Pride march, despite it being banned by the Mayor and the judges, and despite the draconian efforts by the police and FSB security services to prevent it from taking place. I pay tribute to the courage and ingenuity of the Russian gay and lesbian activists. They outwitted the Mayor and his police henchmen.

“Today’s events felt like steeping back into the Soviet era, when protests were routinely banned and suppressed. It is madness that Russian gay rights campaigners are being treated as criminals, just like dissidents in the period of communist dictatorship.

“The real criminals are not the peaceful Gay Pride protesters but the Moscow Mayor and judges who banned this protest. They are the law breakers. They should be put on trial for violating the Russian constitution.

“The EU, US and UK governments have shamefully failed to condemn the banning of Moscow Gay Pride. They support Gay Pride events in Poland and Latvia, but not in Moscow. Why the double standards?”

“Western ambassadors to Russia offered no support to the Moscow Gay Pride organizers. They 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.

Commenting on Friday’s court decision to uphold the Mayor’s ban on Moscow Gay Pride, Mr Tatchell added:

“In a shameless display of feeble deference to the Mayor of Moscow, a court in the Russian capital 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 and Prime Minister Putin.

“This is much bigger than a gay rights issue. We are defending the right to protest of all Russians – gay and straight.

“The courage and resolve of the Russian LGBT activists is inspiring. They were ready to take  whatever brutality the police threw at them,” said Mr Tatchell.

Moscow Pride 2010

Exclusive 6 minutes video of Moscow Pride film director Vladimir Ivanov about the preparations and the action of fifth Moscow Pride on Saturday 29 May 2010.
 
Vladimir Ivanov is the film director of “Moskva. Pride ‘06″ documentary which was selected for Berlin Film Festival in 2007.

Moscow court upholds Gay Pride ban

EU, UK and US fail to condemn ban

Russian gays will defy courts and mayor

Activists gather in secret Moscow location

“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.

Moscow Mayor – Met Police inquiry

Press Secretary’s Alleged Assault on Gay Russian Journalist

The Metropolitan Police in London are investigating a complaint of alleged assault on Russian gay activist and journalist, Nikolai Alekseev, by a member of the Mayor of Moscow’s staff.

The incident happened following the press conference given by the mayors of London, Berlin, Paris, Moscow and Beijing at City Hall in London on 28 February.

According to Mr. Alekseev, Sergi Tsoi, the press secretary of Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, apparently took exception to him unfurling a flag featuring the rainbow-coloured Moscow Pride logo. Tsoi grabbed the flag and aggressively attempted to wrest it from Alekseev.

The incident was broadcast on Russian television last week. The Russian channel NTV devoted six minutes of prime time TV – the weekly news programme “Segodnya” on Sunday 4 March – to the mayor’s press conference, including Tsoi’s bid to wrestle the Moscow Gay Pride flag from Mr Alekseev.

To view the programme and the incident with Mr Alekseev, see:

http://news.ntv.ru/104695/

Mr. Alekseev said he had reported the incident as a homophobic assault to the Metropolitan Police at Uxbridge police station in west London on Saturday 3 March. A spokesman for the police has confirmed to the editor of UK Gay News, Andy Harley, that officers are “investigating a report of an alleged assault at City Hall.”

Speaking from Moscow, Mr. Alekseev commented: “In Russia, people of such high standing get away with such incidents, but in Britain there is a slightly different perception of law.

“According to British law, Mr. Tsoi appears to have committed a crime. He should be held responsible for his actions. Although he has returned to Moscow, if he comes back to Britain he should be interviewed by the police and charges should be laid against him.

“Mr. Tsoi has used homophobic statements before. This time he has resorted to physical force, even in front of the media. He thinks himself untouchable. He assumed that he can get away in London with things that he can get away with in Moscow,” Mr. Alekseev added.

Gay human rights activist, Peter Tatchell of Outrage! in London, who was demonstrating with others outside City Hall against the Moscow Mayor’s banning of Moscow Gay Pride, described the incident as “thuggish bullying” when he saw the television footage.

“It reveals, yet again, the repressive, authoritarian nature of the Mayor of Moscow’s regime,” said Mr Tatchell.

“Mayor Luzhkov may be able to muzzle free speech and the right to protest in Moscow, but he cannot get away with such tactics in London.

“It was exceedingly discourteous for a member of Mr Luzhkov’s staff to abuse the hospitality of the Mayor of London in this way.

“The mistreatment of Mr Alekseev was filmed by TV crews. It provides irrefutable evidence. I hope the London police will press charges,” said Mr. Tatchell.

Free photos of the London protest against the Moscow Mayor, see here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/outrage/sets/72157594562459124/

Further information:

Nikolai Alekseev: nicolas_alexeyev@yahoo.com

Briefing: Moscow Gay Pride

Background briefing by Nikolai Alekseev, Organiser of Moscow Gay Pride

“Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov routinely breaches Russia’s constitution and laws, and the European Convention, by depriving gay people of their right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.

“The real reason behind the ban of the first ever Moscow Gay Pride, held in May 2006, is not because the Mayor is concerned for the security of the participants, as he claims. The ban is motivated by his deep-rooted hatred toward homosexual people.

“Recently the Moscow Mayor said that ‘gay parades are nothing else but satanic’ and promised to ban this year’s Moscow Gay Pride march, scheduled for May, 27.

“The legal case against the ban of the first gay pride in the Russian capital is now pending before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. Due to the length of the procedures, the decision will not be handed down before the Moscow Gay Pride march this year.

“Mr. Luzhkov frequently uses insulting statements against homosexual people in his speeches. He uses every possible vile argument to discredit the LGBT movement and incite hatred towards LGBT people.

“In May last year, the homophobic hysteria of the Moscow Mayor led to massive violations of the rights of homosexual people in Russia. He gave a carte blanche to fascists, ultra-nationalists and religious extremists to attack gay people without fear of being punished.

Whatever the stance of the Moscow Mayor, we are going ahead with plans for a second Moscow Gay Pride on 27 May,” concluded Mr Alekseev.

Moscow Mayor protest gets big Russian coverage

Russian gay leader threatened: “we will get you”

Yuri Luzhkov bans Moscow Gay Pride, due 27 May

Gays denounced as “satanic,” “unnatural” and “deviations”

Russian gay leader Nikolai Alekseev expressed “delight” at the “massive coverage in the Russian media” of Wednesday’s London protest against Moscow’s notoriously homophobic mayor, Yuri Luzhkov.

Mr Alekseev joined the protest, alongside the openly gay Green Party member of the London Assembly, Darren Johnson, and human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.

The protest took place outside City Hall in London on Wednesday 28 February. It was coordinated by LGBTI human rights group OutRage!.

Protesters waved placards with the slogans: “Mayor of Moscow! Mayor of hate!,” and “Luzhkov! Gays aren’t satanic, you are!” and “Stalin! Luzhkov! No to Homophobia!”

Free photos of the protest, see here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/outrage/sets/72157594562459124/

Mr Luzhkov was in London for a summit with the mayors of Paris, London and Berlin. He recently denounced gay pride celebrations as “satanic.” He has also condemned same-sex relationships as “unnatural”, “licentiousness”, deviations”, “blasphemy” and “deadly moral poison.”

“Russian media reporting of the protest has been very beneficial. It has put gay rights on the political agenda in Moscow,” said Mr Alekseev.

“The TV and press coverage has generated a big public debate. It is helping to break down homophobic attitudes.

“The demonstration was very important and effective. It helped keep the pressure on the Moscow Mayor. The protest was widely shown on Russian TV. The issue of gay rights got through to millions of Russians. This is a very positive achievement.

“The protests are working. We saw Luzhkov’s position change for the better during his visit to London. Contrary to his usually strident homophobic outbursts, he did not condemn homosexuality as unnatural, satanic or against religion. His criticisms were relatively mild. This time he said only that homosexuality is ‘wrong and unusual.’

“Very significantly, Luzhkov told the post-summit press conference at City Hall that if the courts decide a gay pride march should be allowed in Moscow then he will not block it. But I wonder whether this was just said to satisfy a western audience. Will he say the same thing back in Russia? I am not sure,” added Mr Alekseev.

A similar view was echoed by fellow protester, Peter Tatchell of OutRage!:

“The fact that Mayor Luzhkov is now saying less vicious things about gay people shows he is feeling the heat. He seems less confident in his homophobic stance,” said Mr Tatchell.

“He has been unnerved by the criticisms and protests. He seems to realise that his extreme homophobia is creating problems.

“Mr Luzhkov is concerned about his negative public image in the West and how this might affect western investment, tourism and cultural relations with Moscow. He is vulnerable to pressure,” concluded Mr Tatchell.

Immediately after the press conference at City Hall ended, Mr Alekseev incurred the wrath of Luzhkov’s minders. He unfurled a rainbow flag with the Moscow Gay Pride logo, as Mr Luzhkov was giving an interview to the Russian media.

“I was about two or three metres behind Luzhkov,” recalls Mr Alekseev.

“This infuriated his staff. Luzhkov’s press secretary, Sergei Tsoi, who is well-known for his homophobic remarks, ordered me to put away the flag. When I refused, he tried to grab it from me by force. Tsoi threatened me. He said they will not leave it like that. I interpreted this as an implied threat.

“I later received two phone calls that seem to have been from someone in Mayor Luzhkov’s entourage. The calls threatened that ‘we will get you.’ It is quite worrying,” confided Mr Alekseev.

Mayor Luzhkov had only recently announced that he was banning the 2007 Moscow Gay Pride parade, scheduled for 27 May. Last year’s march was also banned and some marchers were beaten, tear-gassed and arrested by the Moscow riot police, the OMON.

Mr Alekseev is currently appealing to the European Court of Human Rights against Mayor Luzhkov’s ban on last year’s Moscow Gay Pride. He is also suing the Mayor of Moscow for libel after the Mayor in January this year labeled Moscow Gay Pride as “satanic”.

“Whatever the stance of the Moscow Mayor, we are going ahead with plans for a second Moscow Gay Pride on 27 May,” said Mr Alekseev.

“On behalf of Russian gays and lesbians, I would like to thank OutRage!, particularly Peter Tatchell and Brett Lock, for organising the protest. My thanks also to everyone who attended, despite the appalling weather and transport problems,” said Mr Alekseev.

Moscow Mayor Luzhkov Protest

London, 28 February 2007 – Protest against homophobic Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov who was in London to meet the mayors of London, Paris and Berlin. Luzhkov has banned Moscow Pride and denounced gay people as ’satanic’.

© OutRage! 1990-2010. You are free to use this photo to illustrate news stories and articles about OutRage!, the lesbian and gay human rights group, with credit to the group and photographer. For all other uses, please inquire. Photos: Brett Lock, OutRage!

Moscow Mayor protest, City Hall, London

Russian gay leader will join London demo

Yuri Luzhkov bans Moscow Gay Pride

Gays are “satanic,” “unnatural” and “deviations”

The Mayor of Moscow, Yuri Luzhkov, will face gay rights protesters, headed by Peter Tatchell of OutRage! and Russian gay leader Nikolai Alekseev, when he meets London Mayor, Ken Livingstone, at City Hall, London, tomorrow, Wednesday, 28 February, at 11.30am. Also present at the mayoral meeting will be the Mayors of Berlin and Paris.

The notoriously homophobic Mayor of Moscow has denounced same-sex relationships and gay pride events as “satanic”, “unnatural”, “deviations”, “blasphemy” and “deadly moral poison.”

He recently announced that he was banning the 2007 Moscow Gay Pride parade, scheduled for 27 May. Last year’s march was also banned and some marchers were beaten, tear-gassed and arrested by the Moscow riot police, the OMON.

Nikolai Alekseev, organiser of Moscow Gay Pride, has flown to London to join the protest. He will speak in London tonight (Tuesday) at the 10th anniversary celebrations of Amnesty International’s LGBT human rights campaign.

Mr Alekseev is currently appealing to the European Court of Human Rights against Mayor Luzhkov’s ban on last year’s Moscow Gay Pride. He is also suing the Mayor of Moscow for libel after the Mayor in January this year labeled Moscow Gay Pride as “satanic”.

“We appeal to the Mayors of London, Paris and Berlin to protest to Luzhkov against his ban on Moscow Gay Pride. Whatever the stance of the Moscow Mayor, we are going ahead with plans for a second Moscow Gay Pride on 27 May,” said Mr Alekseev.

“We know Mr Luzhkov feels more and more isolated from other European leaders. He is concerned about his public image in the West and how this might affect western investment and cultural relations with Moscow. He is vulnerable to pressure,” added Mr Alekseev.

OutRage! is coordinating Wednesday’s picket outside City Hall in protest at the Moscow Mayor.

Nikolai Alekseev, Organiser of Moscow Gay Pride, has issued a statement in advance of Wednesday’s protest at City Hall in London:

“Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov routinely breaches Russia’s constitution and laws, and the European Convention, by depriving gay people of their right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.

“The real reason behind the ban of the first ever Moscow Gay Pride, held in May 2006, is not because the Mayor is concerned for the security of the participants, as he claims. The ban is motivated by his deep-rooted hatred toward homosexual people.

“Recently the Moscow Mayor said that ‘gay parades are nothing else but satanic’ and promised to ban this year’s Moscow Gay Pride march, scheduled for May, 27.

“The legal case against the ban of the first gay pride in the Russian capital is now pending before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. Due to the length of the procedures, the decision will not be handed down before the Moscow Gay Pride march this year.

“Mr. Luzhkov frequently uses insulting statements against homosexual people in his speeches. He uses every possible vile argument to discredit the LGBT movement and incite hatred towards LGBT people.

“In May last year, the homophobic hysteria of the Moscow Mayor led to massive violations of the rights of homosexual people in Russia. He gave a carte blanche to fascists, ultra-nationalists and religious extremists to attack gay people without fear of being punished.

“On Tuesday and Wednesday this week Mayor Luzhkov is going to be in London – a city renowned for its respect for democratic values and freedom. He will be meeting the openly gay Mayors of Paris and Berlin, as well as the gay-friendly Mayor of London. This is probably our last international opportunity to raise the issue of homophobia by Moscow Mayor at such a high level.

“We know Mr Luzhkov feels more and more isolated from other European leaders. He is concerned about his public image in the West and how this might affect western investment and cultural relations with Moscow. He is vulnerable to pressure.

“The organisers of Moscow Gay Pride appeal to our friends in London to join Wednesday’s protest at City Hall against the homophobic Mayor of Moscow, to show him that homophobes are not tolerated in Britain.

“We need your help to prevent further violations of the rights of gay people in Moscow in May this year

“We appeal to the Mayors of London, Paris and Berlin to protest to Luzhkov against his ban on Moscow Gay Pride. Whatever the stance of the Moscow Mayor, we are going ahead with plans for a second Moscow Gay Pride on 27 May,” concluded Mr Alekseev.

Moscow Pride Demo

Moscow Pride Demo March 2006, Russian Embassy, London

© OutRage! 1990-2010. You are free to use this photo to illustrate news stories and articles about OutRage!, the lesbian and gay human rights group, with credit to the group and photographer. For all other uses, please inquire. Photos: Brett Lock, OutRage!