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Volume 35
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Bloody attack at Moscow Pride - Thugs beat activists and dignitaries
Bloody attack at Moscow Pride - Thugs beat activists and dignitaries
by Rex Wockner - SGN Contributing Writer

Police stopped a May 27 Gay pride rally outside Moscow City Hall before it could start, arresting most of the organizers as they arrived while anti-Gay thugs beat up Russian and foreign Gays and Lesbians who had gathered for the event.

Police officers, including hundreds of state riot police, did little to halt the bloody assault and, in some cases, chatted casually with the anti-Gay attackers and spewed homophobic insults at Gay activists.

Mayor Yuri Luzhkov had banned a planned pride parade and any other public pride events. He said Gay pride parades are "satanic."

The Gay activists, including members of the European Parliament and European national parliaments, had gathered in Tverskaya Square near City Hall to symbolically deliver a protest letter to Luzhkov signed by 42 members of the European Parliament.

Among the many activists beaten and bloodied were British Gay leader Peter Tatchell and Right Said Fred singer Richard Fairbrass, who was attacked while giving an interview to the Reuters wire service. Several other activists also were beaten in the middle of interviews with the more than 100 news organizations that covered the event.

"On numerous occasions," said the BBC, "nationalists circled Gay rights activists as they spoke with journalists, then reached in to punch or kick the person being interviewed. Police intervened to arrest dozens of Gay rights activists and only rarely detained their attackers."

"There is no rule of law in Moscow," said Tatchell, who had a seriously swollen and bloodied right eye. "The right to protest does not exist. This is not a democracy."

Tatchell said "marauding gangs" of "neo-Nazis, nationalist extremists and Russian Orthodox fundamentalists ... infiltrated the Gay pride crowd and began indiscriminately attacking participants. The Moscow police looked on and did nothing."

Tatchell was repeatedly punched, then slammed to the pavement and kicked over and over. Police then dragged him to a bus and pushed him into it with three neo-Nazis. One cop asked Tatchell if he was Gay. When Tatchell said he is, the officer replied: "Wait until we get you to the police station. Then we will have some fun with you."

"They arrested me, but let my attackers walk free," Tatchell said.

German MP Volker Beck and Italian European Parliament Member Marco Cappato also were arrested, as was European Parliament administrator Ottavio Marzocchi.

As Marzocchi was shoved into a police bus, an officer yelled, "Do this in your own country, faggot," said GayRussia.Ru.

"It was [a] short [Gay pride]," Dutch European Parliament Member Sophie in 't Veld said in a telephone interview with GayRussia.Ru. "Police immediately arrested [chief organizer] Nikolai [Alekseev] and also Nikolai Khramov. There were a lot of cameras everywhere. Many journalists. We felt eggs and other things being thrown. Police did nothing to arrest hooligans. ... I saw a guy with a knife ... and I thought: 'That's it. I'm out of here.' We are now in some restaurant with [Italian MP] Vladimir [Luxuria], [pop-music group] t.A.T.u. and [Gay-friendly Russian MP Aleksei] Mitrofanov."

Luxuria told GayRussia.Ru: "As soon as we got out of the car the police approached us and stopped in a violent way Nikolai and pushed him inside the van. They arrested him and other organizers. I tried to take Nikolai with me and the police pushed me very violently. They throw eggs on me and one went inside my bag on my passport. I am worried I can have problems to leave [Russia]. Then we tried to approach the City Hall but we [were] violently prevented. ... We are now in a safe place with t.A.T.u. and Sophie. ... We did not manage to [deliver] the letter."

Pride participant Claudia Roth, chairwoman of Germany's Green Party, said, "It has been shown once again today that human rights are systematically abused in [President Vladimir] Putin's Russia."

Chief pride organizer Alekseev was held overnight in jail along with activists Nikolai Khramov and Sergei Konstantinov.

A mobile-phone text message received from Alekseev the afternoon of May 28 said: "I am released by court! Next hearing on 9 June. Volker Beck was brilliant witness [and] MP Mitrofanov provided me a brilliant theatrical lawyer. ... He helped to lobby authorities in our direction. That was a great combination together with Western European pressure. Thanks to the German Presidency of the EU."

Alekseev had remained defiant as he waited in jail for the court appearance.

"The protocol written by the police is completely falsified and all the Western MEPs and MPs who were with us could confirm it," he said in a phone call. "We are accused of having blocked the streets and insulted the police which is a complete lie. We were on the pavement [sidewalk] and we never insulted the police. ... All this is nothing else than the good old method of the KGB.

"We will continue our fight for our rights no matter if it does not please Mr. Luzhkov. It's time for the European Parliament to ask its member states to ban Luzhkov and his non-democratic team from visiting Europe for holidays."

The day before the City Hall mêlée, about 150 people attended a pride conference at the Swissôtel. More than 100 journalists and 26 TV crews covered the event.

Last year's first-ever pride ended the same way as this year's. After Luzhkov banned a planned parade, organizers instead tried to lay flowers at the Kremlin's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and hold a protest rally near City Hall. Participants in both small events were violently attacked by neofascists, skinheads, Christians and riot police, and the pride organizers were arrested. The charges were later dropped. A lawsuit over last year's ban is pending before the European Court of Human Rights.



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