Sunday, May 27, 2007

Moscow Mayhem

Мы благодарим всех за поддержку и помощь оказанную нам в достижении равенства для геев и лесбиянок в России. Прошедший фестиваль был только первым шагом.
Мы приглашаем всех Вас принимать участие на втором фестивале, который пройдет в следующем 2007 году в воскресенье 27-ого мая.

A small protest about the banning of the Moscow Gay Pride march turned violent when rightwing thugs assaulted activists in front of dozens of media cameras. The mayor of Moscow has banned gay marches for the second year.

UK Gay News has regular updates, links, and video.

See the video where UK activist Peter Tatchell gets punched, along with others.

"Arrested: Marco Capatto (left), Italian Member of the European Parliament; Volker Beck (centre) , Member of the German Bundestag: and Nikolai Alekseev, one of the organisers of Moscow Pride and the group's spokesperson. The politicians have now been released, but Mr. Alekseev is expected to be held over night and will appear in court on Monday."

"None of the gay rights opponents were seen being taken away by police and demonstrators who were not detained complained that police ignored the violence, The Australian is reporting in its Monday edition."

International gay rights supporters were arrested at a demonstration outside the Moscow mayor's office Sunday and also assaulted by ultra-nationalists and Orthodox Church hardliners.

Police detained Russian gay community leader Nikolai Alexeyev and several others in central Moscow at the start of the demonstration by dozens of homosexual rights activists.

Dozens of Russian ultra-nationalist extremists converged on the group, throwing eggs and punching and kicking gay demonstrators before riot police moved in to separate the two sides.

Also detained were veteran British gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell; Volker Beck, a member of Germany's parliament; and Marco Cappato, an Italian member of the European Parliament.

Capatto was later released after being held for some four to five hours at a police station, said a staff member of the Italian embassy.

"He was released with the help of the Italian embassy," said Italian parliament member Vladimir Luxuria, a transsexual who was in Moscow.

Both Tatchell and Beck were punched in the face in full view of police and dozens of journalists. Another activist was seen bleeding from his face after being attacked.

Tatchell took a punch in the eye from an ultra right-wing nationalist counter-demonstrator, eyewitnesses said. Riot police eventually detained several far-right members.

Alexeyev was attempting to deliver a letter -- also signed by more than 40 members of the European Parliament -- requesting permission to hold a march in central Moscow. Mayor Yury Luzhkov has repeatedly refused to do allow such a march.

The powerful mayor of Russia's capital and by far biggest city earlier this year referred to such marches as "the work of Satan."

Supporting Sunday's demonstration were Italian, German and Austrian lawmakers, Richard Fairbrass of the British pop group Right Said Fred, and the Russian pop duo Tatu.

Tatu singer Yuliya Katina said she was angered "when someone forbids someone else from loving in the way they want to love," Interfax news agency reported.

Far-right Russian parliamentary deputy Alexei Mitrofanov was also present in support of the march, despite the opposition of many in the legislature to sexual minority rights.

Intolerance of homosexuals is stronger and more widespread in Russia than in western Europe, forcing gays to keep a low profile.

Igor Miroshnichenko, a deputy leader of a hardline Orthodox Church group, told Interfax that gays were "perverts who violate the will of God," Interfax reported.

"We want to attract the attention of society so that no one even talks about a gay parade," he said, accusing "those who want to destabilise Russia" of standing behind the demonstration.

Ahead of the march, Moscow police spokesman Viktor Biryukov accused the gay activists of stirring trouble.

"The organisers of this type of event do not protect the rights of sexual minorities, but use the citizens with non-traditional orientations for their own purposes, provoking trouble in the capital," he said.

At another banned gay rights demonstration in Moscow last year, police arrested more than 100 people.

For updates, visit the Moscow-based blog on UK Gay News.

The BBC had covered this event in advance, yet US media remains indifferent.

This is larger than just a small protest. Mayors of several major cities have castigated Moscow's rightwing mayor in international forums. It's been konwn that Putin himself allowed and condoned such violence. But then, what else would one expect? Ever since the fall of the Soviet state, the entire country has been run by thugs. Neo-Nazis get support from the police, and foreign diplomats get arrested for being assaulted.

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