2 Jun 2008

Good news from Moscow Pride

Some good news from Moscow where the heroic Nikolai Alexeyev has managed
to hold Moscow Pride despite the opposition of the Mayor, Fascists and
Orthodox zealots. There is a case pending on the issue in the European
Court of Human Rights. Hopefully Moscow Pride will soon be legalised.

Joseph Healy
International Coordinator

Comment: We outfoxed the Moscow authorities
By Comment • June 2, 2008 - 12:46

Authorities attempted to arrest Moscow Pride's most prominent organiser
Nicolas Alexeyev

No Comments Yet on Comment: We outfoxed the Moscow authorities

By: The Liberation Network

Despite the banning of their protest for the third year in row and
attempted pre-emptive arrests by the authorities, Moscow Lesbians and Gays
today successfully held Pride with widespread coverage by alternative,
prominent international and some mainstream Russian media.

A few hours before the protest, authorities attempted to arrest Moscow
Pride's most prominent organiser, Nicolas Alexeyev, who successfully
evaded them in a car.

A little later, the authorities, neo-fascists and religious zealots took
the bait that Pride was going to take place as a picket in front of
notoriously anti-gay Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov's City Hall.

While riot police were busy blockading City Hall and arresting some of the
fascists and religious fanatics who showed up to physically stop Pride,
Alexeyev had secretly spirited the media to a nearby monument to the great
19th Century Russian gay composer Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky, where Pride
was successfully held with widespread coverage.

To add icing to the cake, Moscow Pride organisers then pulled off a
dramatic banner drop right across the street from City Hall while the
fascists and riot cops fumed below.

The banner read "Rights to gays and lesbians - homophobia of Mayor Luzhkov
to be prosecuted."

Russian authorities later arrested some of the activists who pulled off
the banner drop, and for several hours put an activist's apartment under
siege before apparently getting a court order to kick in the door and
arrest the four activists inside – but not before they conducted a series
of media interviews through the locked door, including with Interfax and
RTR (the main TV channel in Russia).

Despite the arrests, the day was a resounding success for Russian gays and
lesbians, who through clever organising and hard work hoodwinked the
authorities at just about every turn. As Alexeyev commented in an email
posted after the actions:

"No human rights group or opposition [has] ever humiliated the Moscow
authorities so much.

"We wanted to defy the Mayor in front of his office. Not only [has the]
homophobia of Mayor Luzhkov been advertised today, but also the full
collapse of his administration to prevent gays and lesbians [from]
realis[ing] their constitutional rights to march.

"Today, we showed that our group is powerful not only in gay and lesbian
aspects, but in general. Our fight is only at its beginning."

Even during the siege of their apartment, the activists inside managed to
keep good humour about the situation.

When a journalist asked one of the besieged, Kirill Nepomnjaschij, if the
four had enough food and other supplies to last very long, Nepomnjaschij
replied, "Well, we are not going to beat the record of the blockade of
Leningrad, but we will stay. We have food here and everything."

In the longest siege in the history of modern warfare, during World War
Two, Nazi armies besieged the City of Leningrad for more than 900 days,
before the blockade was defeated.

Shortly after the arrests of the activists in the apartment, all major
Russian gay websites went down, in an apparent attempt to squelch news
about the successful Pride events.

In spite of the censorship, as of this writing, Russian gays were still
able to keep news flowing through their blog, which is by far the best and
most complete account of the day's events.

This is the third year in a row that Moscow Lesbians and Gays have
attempted to commemorate the 1993 decriminalisation of homosexuality in

Before the previous two years' events, Russian gays filed for permits to
hold Pride events, only to be rejected by Moscow authorities. This year
the authorities banned the event even before GayRussia.ru applied for the

Previous years' Pride events have seen physical attacks by Russian
fascists on Pride participants, infamously bloodying German MP Volker
Beck, British gay activist Peter Tatchell, and Austrian gay activist Kurt
Krickler last year.

They, along with many other international LGBT supporters, had attended
Moscow Pride in solidarity.

Despite the "pre-emptive" ban on this year's Pride, there were
contradictory signals from the authorities that indicated that this year's
event might not face the same degree of repression that previous year's
events had endured.

A few weeks ago, in response to active campaigning by GayRussia.ru,
Russian authorities finally dropped the ban on gays donating blood – a
gain that many western countries, including the United States, have yet to

A few days ago Russian federal authorities reported that they had
"suggested" that the city authorities allow Pride to proceed unmolested
this year.

Given the near-total control of Russian political affairs by the
increasingly autocratic government of President Dmitry Medvedev (and power
behind the throne, Prime Minister Vladmir Putin), such a "suggestion," if
it were genuine, should have meant clear sailing for this year's Pride.

Fortunately, Russian lesbians and gays were not so gullible as to believe
this subterfuge by the Medvedev/Putin government, and carefully prepared
some subterfuges of their own so as to successfully carry out today's
Pride activities.

Activists around the world are strongly encouraged to contact the Russian
embassies in their countries and to demand that the Russian authorities
immediately release all Pride participants who have been arrested, and
drop all of the charges that they are facing.

1 comment:

Kai said...

Hi Derek,

I'd love to get your take on this video about the Green Party in the United States. What are the similarities and differences between Green Party US and the Green Party in England and Wales?