Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Moscow anti-gay attack fuels western criticism over Russia's record on human rights and democracy

Released leader of GayRussia Nikolay Alexeev announced date for next year's Moscow Gay Pride - Saturday, 31st May 2008 and declared his MP ambitions

I've just learned that all detained gay right activists, including leader of GayRussia Nikolay Alexeev, has been released from custody. According to UKGayNews, within hours of being released by a Moscow Court, Nikolay Alekseev had met with others on the Moscow Gay Pride Committee to discuss the future.

“The Moscow Pride Committee has decided tonight that next Moscow Pride will take place Saturday May 31,” Mr. Alekseev said last night. And that was not all.

“I am planning to run next December in the Douma [Russian parliament] election. This could really change the course of next year’s Pride,” he added.

Alexeev expressed his gratitude to gay rights campaigners, various European governments and politicians that had made statements about the events during Moscow Pride. And in particular, he paid tribute to Germany, who currently hold the European Union presidency.

The incident prompted Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, to announce she would raise the issue of human rights with President Vladimir Putin at next month's G8 summit in Germany. "It has been shown once again today that human rights are systematically abused in Putin's Russia," she said in a statement (Independent).

Russian agency RIA Novosti reported that Italy's foreign minister has expressed anger at the detention of two members of the European parliament during Sunday's unsanctioned Gay Pride Parade in central Moscow, while a spokesman for France's Foreign Ministry has said he regrets the "acts of violence" perpetrated against the marchers.

According to BBC, Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe condemned Sunday's "unacceptable violence," while Rome Mayor Walter Veltroni said the "sad" incident in Moscow "leaves you speechless".

London Mayor Ken Livingston expressed his "deep concern at the reported physical violence against, and arrest of" gay rights activists and urged Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov "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" (PinkNews) The Mayor of Moscow has made openly homophobic remarks in the past, calling homosexuality "satanic".

Meanwhile, British gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell who was badly beaten before being arrested by riot police, expressed his dismay at the police actions (Sky News, picture by PinkNews): "The Moscow police, astonishingly, arrested me and let my attackers walk free."

Richard Fairbrass, a singer with the band Right Said Fred, was left with a deep gash under his left eye and blood pouring down his face after receiving several blows to the head, while trying to speak to journalists (picture by RIA Novosti):

"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'?" Fairbrass told BBC Radio Five Life that he would be travelling with security in Eastern Europe from now on.

More pictures from Moscow (by RIA Novosti) are available here.

Elsewhere in Moscow, Mikhail Solomontsev, the official spokesperson for Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov paid tribute to “the clear, smooth and polite work of the police, who acted strictly within the law” (UkGayNews). Yeah, sure... as documented above and here!

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