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Moscow Gay Rights Rally Turns Violent

A1

British activist Peter Tatchell and Right Said Fred singer Richard Fairbrass were assaulted on camera as a gay rights march in Moscow turned violent on Sunday. Tatchell and Fairbrass were both then arrested, along with Italian MEP Marco Cappato, German MP Volker Beck (who was assaulted at last year's rally), the leader of GayRussia, Nikolai Alexeyev, and dozens of other activists.

Thirty people were detained in all at what began as a peaceful demonstration meant to mark the 14th anniversary of the decriminilization of homosexuality in Russia. One of the organizers' goals was to deliver a document to the mayor's office signed by over 40 members of the European Parliament protesting Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov's decision to ban the march. In January, Luzhkov branded the march "satanic".

As soon as the demonstration began, a group of attackers, made up of ultra-nationalists and members of the ultra-Orthodox Russian church, set angrily upon the group.

According to Deutsche-Welle: "Dozens of Russian right-wing extremists converged on the group, shouting insults like 'fags,' 'perverts' and 'death to homosexuals,' throwing eggs and punching and kicking gay demonstrators in front of riot police who intervened much later."

The attackers walked free, according to Tatchell, although other outlets reported "the police...systematically arrested both the attackers and the assaulted."

A2Tatchell later said: "The Moscow police gave right-wing extremists a more or less free hand to attack Gay Pride marchers. Despite many of us being battered left, right and centre, the police only arrested a handful of the assailants. I urge people to protest to the Russian Ambassador and to ask their local MPs to send a letter of protest to the Russian embassy."

Transgender Italian politician Vladimir Luxuria said she tried to protect Alexeyev, according to the Moscow Times: "I tried to protect him, but I was roughly shoved away. After that someone started throwing eggs. They said, 'Moscow is not Sodom.' I then saw someone with a knife, and people started to throw stones at us."

Tatchell told Sky News: "We were violently assaulted - I was battered in the face and the eye, and knocked to the ground, kicked and beaten. The Moscow police, astonishingly, arrested me and let my attackers walk free." He told the Guardian that those arrested were taunted by police: "When we were in the police van the police taunted us. They said, 'Are you a member of the sexual minority?' We said yes. They said, 'We are going to have some fun with you at the police station.' What happened here shows the flawed and failed nature of Russia's transition to democracy. There is no right to protest in Moscow."

A3Said Fairbrass: "We've never travelled with security in Moscow, Latvia, any of the old eastern bloc countries, but I have to say I wouldn't... travel now without having our own security guys with us, no. When it was over I actually felt more sorry for the guy that whacked me than I did for me... How threatened can he be, how insecure is he to be threatened by a bisexual pop singer who's most famous for singing 'I'm too sexy'?"

Deputy head of the city administration press service Mikhail Solomentsev painted an altogether different picture, praising the city's police force: "We must point to the clear, coordinated and polite actions of the police that acted strictly in the framework of law...The attempted attack on gay activists once again proves that the city authorities had done right by prohibiting the parade and thus preventing bad clashes between the opponents who are numerous in this country and advocates of sexual minorities."

A5Alekeyev and two other organizers of the march - dubbed the “Moscow Gay Pride Three” were detained overnight Sunday awaiting a court hearing and sources close to them told UK Gay News that they feared he may be sent to prison: "We really fear that Nikolai Alekseev will be sent to prison for 15 days as the 'figurehead' of the Gay Pride organising team...Unofficially, we received confirmation that this is what the General Prosecutor already asked. We are not very optimistic about the result of the court hearing. We can say that all three have been provided with legal assistance."

The sources allege: "[It is] becoming very clear that orders are being given to court and militia directly from [the] Kremlin."

Alexeyev and the two other activists were released on Monday but must return to court on June 9 on charges they organized an illegal demonstration.

Alexeyev was defiant upon release, announcing plans to hold a parade next year in Moscow on May 31, 2008. He also said he intended to run for office: "I am planning to run for the Duma in December. This can fundamentally change the circumstances in holding the next parade."

A6The British Green Party has called for a European travel ban to be placed on Moscow Mayor Luzhkov. Said Green Party principal speaker Dr. Derek Wall:" This type of police action simply confirms that human rights are not respected in President Putin’s Russia. Russia, as a member of the Council of Europe and a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights, has a responsibility to allow its citizens the right to peaceful protest. In this case, EU countries should impose a travel ban on Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, just as they did on Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko because of his appalling human right record. The EU is a force for anti-discrimination, and Green MEPs have been at the forefront of promoting new policies to ensure equal employment and partnership rights across the EU. The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) population deserves political allies who will work with us to benefit our community."

BeckLondon Mayor Ken Livingstone wrote a letter to Luzhkov condemning the incident. Livingstone: "I am writing to convey my deep concern at the reported physical violence against, and arrest of, Peter Tatchell, a Parliamentary candidate for the Green Party in Britain, and other supporters of lesbian and gay rights, during their participation in an event in Moscow seeking to present a petition to you to lift a ban on the Gay Pride parade in Moscow. I have known Peter Tatchell for many years and know him to be a person committed exclusively to peaceful political activity. I would urge you to use your good offices to seek the lifting of all charges against Mr Tatchell and his fellow demonstrators. I would also urge you to resolve the root cause of this protest by lifting the ban on the Gay Pride parade in Moscow in line with the practice of most cities throughout the world."

Background
Transgender Italian Politician Joins Moscow Gay Pride [tr]
Russian Homophobes Warn: “Moscow will drown in gay blood” [tr]
Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov: No "Satanic" Gay Pride Parades [tr]

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Comments

  1. Thank you, again, Andy. You do so much for the glbtq community with such thorough and up-to-date posts such as this. I can't go a day without checking out this blog...just to keep up. Great work, I mean really GREAT work...please keep it up, thanks, m.

    Posted by: vocino | May 29, 2007 8:38:14 AM


  2. Congratulations on your reportage. None of the mainstream press (even the NYT, always supportive of gay rights)has had even a mention of this event.

    Posted by: Josh Raso | May 29, 2007 8:38:59 AM


  3. Makes me glad that i'm not Russian

    Posted by: stephen | May 29, 2007 8:44:27 AM


  4. Disgusting. The EU better do more than write a letter.

    How brave of those who gathered in Moscow. They are owed our continued thanks.

    Posted by: Rob (lrdarystar) | May 29, 2007 8:49:45 AM


  5. Excellent coverage, as usual, Andy.

    This is absolutely disgusting!

    Remember the good ole days when the big problem with Russia (USSR) was communism? Now it's a melting pot of neo-nazis, skinheads, retro-communists, mafia thugs, religious fanatics; all overseen by a corrupt government.

    If they didn't have such a big head start they would be neck and neck with America in the race to get back to the 19th century.

    There, like here, the religious nuts, along with their government accomplices, are leading the masses to hell in a handbasket.

    Posted by: Zeke | May 29, 2007 8:52:44 AM


  6. Zeke

    Yep

    The resurgence of the Russian orthedox church and its subsequent push for political power in russia is a huge problem. Also all the american specific religous cults like Jehova Witnesses, Mormons, Baptists etc flooded into russia after the fall of communism and gobbled up the naive and indoctrinated them into their world views which include hate of us. Pat Robertson was very big into funneling money and so-called missionaries to russia. One assumes it was more to gobble up resources and money making ventures under the guise of religiong though. Robertson never met an inhuman money making scheme he didn't like. Such as Blood tainted diamonds from murderers in african countries etc. Robertson and Falwell both also supported arpartheid at one time due to the money schemes they had going on under that system. Anyway; Russia was never a gay paradise, but the upswing of religion in russia over the years has not helped at all.

    Posted by: pacificoceanboy | May 29, 2007 9:11:30 AM


  7. JOSH RASO wrote: None of the mainstream press (even the NYT, always supportive of gay rights)has had even a mention of this event.

    That's not true, JOSH: www.nytimes.com/2007/05/28/world/europe/28moscow.html

    Posted by: PC | May 29, 2007 9:21:03 AM


  8. Strike me as unsurprised by the thuggery of eastern Europe, which is actually nothing more than a collection of failed democratic states with one or two exceptions.

    But there is a reason, suddenly taking away 40+ years of communism coupled with nothing but government propoganda and authoritarian culture, it is only natural that some long for the regimented lifestyle they were accustomed too and the right-wing groups/authoritarian religions attract such people.

    Nevertheless, I think much more could be done to combat this, both on the part of the Russian authorities (which won't happen becuase such groups support Putin and his mafia government) and the EU (which won't happen for fear of retaliation from Putin by way of slowing gas and oil supplies to the EU). Yes, the EU is craven and useless and no wonder why no one wants to it to expand further.

    Posted by: Will | May 29, 2007 10:15:22 AM


  9. While the question of whether or not the parade is a good idea continues to be hotly debated in Russia, it looks to me like these protests are having an effect, but not so much on the Russian or city government.

    For ages Russian gays have refused to identify politically with anything like a gay movement, but now the bravery of a few and the backlash of the homophobes have conspired to make people actually stand up as a community. It's beginning to like like a Stonewall -- one that repeats every year, but still, a start. Interestingly, they chose May 27 because that's when the sodomy law (Para. 122) was removed from the books in 1993. But that happened without any push from below, and it took the handful of gay rights activists back then by surprise. A lot of people, including many involved in gay organizations and businesses, still refuse to participate in demonstrations, but now more and more do participate and still more applaud their bravery. (In Petersburg dozens of gay leaders & bar owners signed a petition against holding a parade, and it looks like it didn't happen.)

    Posted by: KevinVT | May 29, 2007 10:25:32 AM


  10. Does anyone notice that whenever there is a news story about a violation of gay (or generally human) rights, it inevitably involves a religious group? This is hardly a coincidence. It is quite obvious to me that religious faith is the biggest hurdle to human rights and human progress.

    Posted by: ReasReasonBased | May 29, 2007 10:44:54 AM


  11. They should import some pier queens from the West village to walk in that parade. I'd like to see some right-winger even think about attacking one of those queens. They'd have their asses served back to them on a plate.

    Posted by: gwyneth cornrow | May 29, 2007 10:46:13 AM


  12. What can YOU do to help? Nota Bene: Tatchell is a British gay activist. Beck is a German gay activist. Luxuria is Italian and, as I recall, Fairbrass is Australian—BUT THEY WERE THERE! The question isn't why you or I werent' there, but WHERE were representatives of the AMERICAN gay rights movement such as the Human Rights Champagne fund's Joe Solmonese who is paid over $200,000 a year to be the "HEAD" gay rights activist in the US? A joke, I know. He never leaves the tower of HRC Castle in DC if there's not money to be sucked up. Focus on the "Family," as I've written before, has a HUGE "ministry" in Russia via their radio, TV, and print empire inflaming homohate even more successfully than they do Stateside. Anyone want to guess the answer to the question, "Was Solmonese at either of the Soulforce demonstrations at FOF HQ the last two summers?" Judy Shepard was there last year. Chad Allen was there. WHERE WAS JOE? Yes, Colorado is a little far from DC and Little Joe couldn't be bothered to even take a short flight to New York to participate in Larry Kramer's Time Square anti-DADT protest, let alone get arrested as NGLTF's Matt Foreman did. And it's hot in the summer in CO, and Little Joe never works up a sweat—unless it's a HRC beach tea dance or pool party with money to be sucked up. Yes, some people were arrested and maybe Joe only likes handcuffs in his bedroom. But no one was physically attacked. The only danger was that his Kenneth Cole shoes might have gotten scuffed. Haven't checked their site but there's probably another hissy HRC press release condemning the brutality in Moscow against his LGBT brothers and sisters. But the only thing he has in commmon with them is being gay. An "ACTivist" he is not. He and the HRC gang wouldn't know what that is if it hit them in the head. Ya know, kinda like what happened to Tatchell, Beck, Fairbrass, et al. What we can most do to help gays in Moscow and everywhere is suffocate HRC to death by stopping giving them money and attention, and hope that a REAL gay ACTivist group grows up on their grave.

    Posted by: Leland | May 29, 2007 10:48:31 AM


  13. Outraged? What can you do to help? Nota Bene: Tatchell is a British gay activist. Beck is a German gay activist. Luxuria is Italian and, as I recall, Fairbrass is Australian—BUT THEY WERE THERE! The question isn't why you or I weren't there, but WHERE were representatives of the AMERICAN gay rights movement such as Numero Uno the Human Rights Champagne fund's Joe Solmonese who is paid over $200,000 a year to be the "HEAD" gay rights activist in the US? A joke, I know. Why? Because he never leaves the tower of HRC Castle in DC if there's not money to be sucked up. Focus on the "Family," as I've written before, has a HUGE "ministry" in Russia via their radio, TV, and print empire inflaming homohate even more successfully than they do Stateside. Anyone want to guess the answer to the question, "Was Solmonese at either of the Soulforce demonstrations at FOF HQ the last two summers?" Judy Shepard was there last year. Chad Allen was there. WHERE WAS JOE? Yes, Colorado is a little far from DC and Little Joe couldn't be bothered to even take a short flight to New York to participate in Larry Kramer's Time Square anti-DADT protest, let alone get arrested as NGLTF's Matt Foreman did. And it's hot in the summer in CO, and Little Joe never works up a sweat—unless it's a HRC beach tea dance or pool party with money to be sucked up. Yes, some people were arrested and maybe Joe only likes handcuffs in his bedroom. But no one was physically attacked. The only danger was that his Kenneth Cole shoes might have gotten scuffed. Haven't checked their site but there's probably another hissy HRC press release condemning the brutality in Moscow against his LGBT brothers and sisters. But the only thing he has in commmon with them is being gay. An "ACTivist" he is not. He and the HRC gang wouldn't know what that is if it hit them in the head. Ya know, kinda like what happened to Tatchell, Beck, Fairbrass, et al. What we can most do to help gays in Moscow and everywhere is suffocate to death the already comatose HRC by stopping giving them money and attention, and hope that a REAL gay ACTivist group grows up on their grave.

    Posted by: Leland | May 29, 2007 10:51:53 AM


  14. Richard Fairbrass is actually British. As well.

    Also, while the EU and its member states have ben quick to denounce this, I doubt that there will even be a wispher of disaproval from the White House!

    As for oil and gas....that is true. Just look at what goes on in Saudi Arabia...dont stops the European and the US goverment from selling them weapons.

    Sooner we get an atlerative to oil and gas the better.

    Posted by: Evil European | May 29, 2007 11:21:11 AM


  15. When I read the headlines and people being savagely beaten by these neo nazi thugs and religious extremists who use the bible to preach hatred,I was angry and I cried so much.But it makes me stronger and prouder of who I am.Russia is not a democracy.

    Posted by: bitchy stella | May 29, 2007 12:14:49 PM


  16. Perhaps a more constructive way to show your outrage would be to pick up a pen and paper and write, or call,the Russian Embassies in your home country:
    Yuri V. Ushakov
    Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the U.S.
    1706 18th St NW, Washington, DC 20009, USA - +1 202-232-0537

    His Excellency Grigory Karasin, the Russian Ambassador to the UK
    The Embassy Of Russian Federation
    13 Kensington Palace Gardens
    London, W8 4QX

    020 72293628

    Posted by: Stewart | May 29, 2007 12:51:18 PM


  17. Appreciate your good intentions, Stewart, but the Russian government psyche is immune to such casual protest as letters about any subject. Russia is still as paranoid, and pretty much as resentful of interference in their way of doing things as they were under the Commisars and the Tsars. Going through the locked doors of one of their American embassies just to apply for a tourist visa was like going back in time 40 years. One had to be buzzed in and buzzed out. I half expected the glowering clerk behind glass to push a button and KGB agents to burst into the room and start torturing me to reveal why anyone wanted to spend money in their country. By contrast, getting a visa to China was a breeze.

    Posted by: Leland | May 29, 2007 2:22:50 PM


  18. One American WAS there ... Scott Long from Human Rights Watch - he was also there last year. His brief "dispatches" were posted on the UK Gay News website as they happened give or take a few minutes. Again the UK website was the only foriegn specialist gay internet organisation there and they published what their small band of reporters wrote within an hour, with more considerd reportage later the same day. Some of the stuff was a little 'raw', but it was immediate news. Will be interesting to see what Amnesty's special blogging from Latvia's Riga Pride this coming weekend can give to the gay world - and remember participants at last year's Riga Pride had animal excrement thrown at them as the cops lost control.

    Posted by: Mark | May 29, 2007 3:58:37 PM


  19. Archeology: An investigation to date who
    murdered who and when. Boyee, I`m sorry
    to think that! ...proving that the
    species is defective. What I fear to say:
    Viewing the planet from here, I`d guarantee
    they`re looking for someone to murder;
    revealing that the species must learn
    that about itself although the possibility
    of remedy is remote if at all. B

    Posted by: Bruce | May 29, 2007 5:00:03 PM


  20. Some sick f*ck under the name "TheNonGayMovement" has posted this lovely vid on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NsMXIsThXw0

    "Gay guys doing what gays do best, get beats."

    There were more, but after I (and obviously others) tagged some as "hate speech", they have been pulled. For some reason, the above vid remains.

    Posted by: John in Manhattan | May 29, 2007 7:15:56 PM


  21. I'm not one to normally advocate violence, but it's time the Russian LGBT ganging up on these homophobic assholes. If the police aren't going to protect them, they have to do it themselves.

    Posted by: Tread | May 29, 2007 7:17:30 PM


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