St. Petersburg Hub




St. Petersburg Pride Rally Denied Permission Takes Place Without Violence

A Gay Pride event took place without any violence in St. Petersburg, Russia, last Saturday, reports The Moscow Times.

SppLast week, event organisers Ravnopraviye said that they intended to hold the rally despite officials denying a request for permission.

The rally happened on the Field of Mars square, a newly created free-speech zone in the city. While The Moscow Times said that 24 people took part, Queer Russia estimated the number to be around 150.

Police accompanied activists both to and from the rally.

During the rally, activists talked about the need to respect civil rights and thanked the police for their protection.

According to Pink News, some attendees were detained for carrying placards depicting images and sayings which fell under Russia’s anti-gay propaganda law.

The law, signed by Vladimir Putin last June, bans the “promotion of non-traditional sexual relations” to minors.

At least six people were arrested at two gay pride rallies in Moscow last May.


Russia Designates LGBT Rights Group As A 'Foreign Agent'

Coming out russia

On July 21st, a court in St. Petersburg, Russia designated LGBT rights group Coming Out as a “foreign agent,” reports 76Crimes.com.

Organizations registered as "foreign agents" in Russia are subject to extra governmental audits and other measures that limit their efficacy.

Coming Out has been fighting the designation for 16 months.

Following the ruling, the group issued a statement on Facebook which reads in part:

"The label 'foreign agent' on all the public materials of the organization would be a sign for wider society that the idea of protecting the rights of LGBT people is something 'foreign', and, therefore unnecessary and even harmful. An organization registered as a 'foreign agent' would also be subject to extra governmental audits, and further measures that would limit its capabilities to work.

"'Coming Out' will appeal the court’s decision, but there is no guarantee that the organization will not be registered by the Ministry of Justice in the nearest future, as it happened also with five major human rights organizations.

"This decision marks an end of the 16-month saga during which 'Coming Out' invested considerable time, effort, and resources to explain to the courts, mass media, and the general public that defending universal human rights of Russian citizens is in the interests of those citizens, and of Russia. We are hoping that, regardless of the final outcome, this message was able to reach the hearts and minds of many people.

According to The Advocate, although Coming Out did not directly mention Russia's ban on "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations" as the source of the initial complaint, reports suggest that the law has created an untenable situation for LGBT Russians.


10 LGBT Activists Arrested in Sochi Protest in Moscow's Red Square: WATCH

Arrest

Earlier today we reported on the arrest of four LGBT activists protesting Sochi in St. Petersburg. Among them was Anastasia Smirnova, coordingator of a coalition of six Russian LGBT advocacy organizations.

Now, Russian media reports that 10 more LGBT activists have been arrested in Moscow: Elena Kostyuchenko, Anna Annenkov, Lynn Reid, Knicks Nemeni, Olga Mazurova, Gleb Warrior, Tarja Polyakova, Daria Starshinina and two Swedish nationals.

Watch video of the arrests, AFTER THE JUMP...

At least 23 people have been detained in Moscow, according to reports.

Continue reading "10 LGBT Activists Arrested in Sochi Protest in Moscow's Red Square: WATCH" »


Four LGBT Activists Arrested at Sochi Protest in St. Petersburg

The Russian LGBT Network reports that four activists have been arrested following a protest in St. Petersburg:

SmirnovaJust now in St.Petersburg 4 LGBT-activists, including one pregnant woman, were arrested. Among the activists were Anastasiya Smirnova (pictured) and Aleksandra Semenova.

The activists were making photos with a banner "Discrimination is incompatible with the Olympic Movement. Principle 6. Olympic Charter" to support the company held today all over the world.

All the arrested will be taken to the 16th police department.

Developing...

(image facebook)


Masked Men Attack LGBT Organization in St. Petersburg, Russia, Injuring Two People

One man was blinded and a young woman was injured with a baseball bat in an attack on an LGBT community center in St. Petersburg, Russia over the weekend.

A press release from LaSky St. Petersburg (via the Russian LGBT Network): Aa

At about 19.20 on Sunday, November 3, 2013 the "Rainbow Coffee" traditionally held at the community center of the project LaSky-St.Petersburg was attacked by two assailiants. They entered community center pretending to be "looking for a friend". Then one of them pulled a pneumatic gun and opened fire while the other was brandishing a baseball bat. Two persons were injured in the attack. A young man, who was shot in the face and has got a bullet stuck in his eye, was taken to the hospital. Doctors say his prognosis is not good -- his injured eye will hardly be recovered. A second victim was a young lady who was injured by baseball bat.

"Rainbow Coffee" is a weekly social event for LGBT-youth and heterosexual allies aiming to support free non-judgmental communication of participants. About 25-30 people were attending the last meeting. It is not the first time when all kinds of homophobic groups in social networks pay vicious attention to the project LaSky-Saint-Petersburg providing services for HIV and other STD prevention on MSM. About a month ago several homophobic vk.com pages posted calls for actions against LaSky community center. Today's attack is a result of escalation of homophobic climate in the city. Those who foster the feelings of hatred on the ground of sexual orientation or gender identity including politicians and religious leaders must be accounted for it.

This attack aimed at the office of organization for prevention of HIV and STD is an indication that pogrom-makers progressed from attacking activists during street rallies to attacks on closed private social events. Human Rights defenders of the city are following this incident with an intense attention and will press for just and fair investigation of this homophobic hate crime.

Adds activist Anastasia Smirnova:

"Pogroms are becoming a reality -- now it is not migrants, but the St Petersburg office of LaSky, HIV/AIDS organization for MSM. Two masked men with traumatic guns attacked LaSky's 'rainbow' social just 40 minutes ago. The police arrived on site and left right away saying that they did not see any evidence of the crime. Two guests of the social were hospitalized.

(image from 2010 protest in St. Petersburg)


President Obama Meets with Russian LGBT Activists in St. Petersburg

Kochetkov

President Obama met with Igor Kochetkov (above, being detained for 'gay propaganda' in April 2012), Director of the Russian LGBT Network and Olga Lenkova (below), a spokesperson for the St. Petersburg LGBT organization Coming Out for a little more than an hour Friday evening at the Crown Plaza near the St. Petersburg airport with UN ambassador Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to Russia Mike McFaul, and seven other Russian civil society activists, according to a pool report.

LenkovaSaid Obama to the activists: "I got my start as a community organizer, somebody who was working in what would be called an NGO in the international community. I got elected president by engaging people at a grass roots level."

Obama also said, referring to the activists: "I'm very proud of their work... Part of good government is making sure we're creating a space for civil society."

No further details on the content of the meeting have been provided.

Other activists who met with Obama were Pavel Chikov Chairperson of the Agora Association (Kazan); Yana Yakovleva, Founder, Business Solidarity; Yelena Milashina, Investigative journalist, Novaya Gazeta; Yevgenia Chirikova, Director, Movement to Defend Khimki Forest; Ivan Pavlov, Head, Institute for the Freedom of Information; Boris Pustyntsev, Head, Citizens Watch;  and Dmitry Makarov, Member of the Coordinating Council of the International Youth Human Rights Movement

UPDATE: Obama's remarks at the roundtable, as provided by the White House.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I just want to say thank you to all the participants in this roundtable. This is an incredible and very diverse group of civil society leaders. And this is something that I really enjoy doing at every country that I visit because it is my firm belief that a country's strength ultimately comes from its people and that as important as government is -- and laws -- what makes a country democratic and effective in delivering prosperity and security and hope to people is when they've got an active, thriving civil society. And all of these leaders, ranging from business leaders to youth leaders to environmental leaders, those who are advocating on behalf of a free press, the rule of law, all of them contribute in one way or another to continuing to strengthen Russian society and helping to make progress on behalf of all people.   

And the same is true in the United States. I'm now in government, but I got my start as a community organizer, somebody who was working in what would be called an NGO in the international community. And the work I was doing was helping poor communities have a voice in what was happening in their lives. And I got elected as President by engaging people at a grassroots level.

So the kinds of activities that are represented here are critically important to Russia's development, and I'm very proud of their work. And I think it is important for us to remember that in every country -- here in Russia, in the United States, around the globe -- that part of good government is making sure that we're creating a space for civil society to function effectively: freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, making sure that people can join together and make common cause around the issues that they care deeply about.

So I appreciate you taking the time. I'm not going to do all the talking here. I want to spend most of my time listening. But I want to thank you again and I hope all of you continue the good work. 


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