Sunday, 2 December 2007

Russian gay rights activists arrested at polling station in Moscow

*Nikolai Alexeyev, gay rights activist and Moscow Gay Pride organiser, shows his spoiled voting paper minutes before being arrested. It reads: "No to homophobes. No to Luzhkov." Photo via

Nikolai Alekseyev and 12 fellow gay rights activists have been arrested this morning at 10am in Moscow while they attempted to vote at the "District Electoral Commission N° 165". They came to the place at 9.30 am. Yuri Luzhkov, mayor of Moscow who banned the last two Gay Prides (calling them "Satanic"), was planning to vote in the same place later in the day. Representatives of reported that the police ‘suddenly broke into the place and took all the activists who were quietly voting.’ Reportedly, some 5 police busses could be seen around the voting place which usually serves as a school. However, reported that Nikolai Alekseyev was arrested when he wrote ‘No to homophobes. No to Luzhkov’ on his ballot paper and started to demonstrate the bulletin to journalists (see photo above). In Putin’s ‘guided democracy,’ spoiling the ballot papers is a silent form of protest by many: opposition leader Garry Kasparov has been reported writing ‘Another Russia’ over his ballot paper.

The activists were detained at the Tverskoy police station. They were charged for attempting to conduct an "illegal gathering". Those charged for taking part in an "illegal gathering" are due to appear in court on Monday at 10am (Moscow time).

Two weeks ago, a group of Russian gays and lesbians called for the LGBT community to vote in the election and to write on the ballot paper “No to homophobes” as a protest to the lack of human rights in the country for their community. They claimed that no political party took the LGBT issues into consideration and therefore they did not want to support anyone.

“We were trying to vote,” said Moscow Gay Pride organiser Nikolai Alexeyev, speaking from the police station where he was detained. “Men from the special services pushed us outside the polling station, put us in a bus and drove us to a police station.” There was no direct protest, Alexeyev said. It was simply a matter of “spoiling” their ballot papers by writing “No to Homophobes” across the paper.

Those arrested were detained for more than three hours at the Tverskoy police station in central Moscow, about 100 metres from City Hall and less the five minutes walk from Red Square. For hours, they were not given a reason for their detention.

An official from the Prosecution Department visited the Tverskoy police station in the afternoon. He immediately ordered that those still detained to be released, indicating the maximum time permitted for detention in such cases was three hours, Alexeyev said by telephone. He called intervention from the Prosecution Department against police actions "sensational".

Nikolai Alexeyev expressed hope that the journalists in the polling station where activists were arrested can testify that they did not conduct any demonstration, but simply "about 20 of them voted at the same time." A number of media representatives were at that pollig station waiting for the Mayor of Luzhkov who was due to vote shortly after the LGBT activists.

(based on Gay Republic Daily, and UKGayNews)


artmika said...

Court Postpones Hearing of Gays Arrested While Voting in Moscow

Gay activists face fines if found guilty

The hearing today in a Moscow court against the gays arrested yesterday at a polling station as they were voting in the Russian general election has been postponed.

The case was due to be heard, according to papers served on the accused, at 11 am. But the police file was not sent to court.

“We had to wait – and by 1 pm they only brought some of the papers,” said activist Nikolai Alexeyev.

The judge heading the case, Larisa Bogdanovich, refused to start the case, and set a date of December 11for the cases.

The 13 gays arrested at the polling station shortly before Moscow mayor, Yuri Luzhkov arrived to vote, have been charged with taking part in an unauthorised picket inside the polling station.

The evidence that the prosecution intend to use is that the accused were wearing small Moscow Pride pins and rainbow ribbons.

Many of those arrested were detained by the militia for some seven hours, instead of a maximum of three hours.

If found guilty on December 11, each face a fine of 1,000 roubles (about £20 or $US40).

artmika said...

Russian Gay Activists Detained at Duma Elections Last Month Found Not Guilty in Court

Police breached Russian legislation, judge rules

The 13 gay activists arrested in a Moscow polling station on December 2 during the Russian State Dumas election for “protest voting”, were acquitted today by a judge.

The 13, including Moscow Gay Pride organisers Nikolai Alekseev, Nikolai Baev and Alexey Davydov, were among more that two dozen activists who went to vote in polling station 165, where the homophobic mayor of Moscow Yuri Luzhkov votes, to protest against the whole electoral process and homophobic position of all political parties including President Vladimir Putin’s “United Russia” for which Mr. Luzhkov was heading Moscow list.

Mayor Luzhkov has banned two Moscow Prides in as many years.

The 13 who were detained inside the polling station by special security and police and taken to Tverskoi district police station where they spent seven hours. They were charged of conducting a picket without notifying the Moscow authorities. According to the Russian law it is an administrative offence which carries a fine of up to 2,000 roubles (40 UK pounds).

Judge Larisa Bogdanovich agreed with the prosecution that by detaining the activists for more than three hours, the police seriously breached the Russian Administrative Code and acquitted the 13.

The Moscow court interrogated two police officers who allegedly took part in the detaining of the activists on December 2.

According to court ruling, the police officers were unable to say what the detained persons did inside the polling station. They said that by arresting people they only followed the orders of the higher authorities within the police.

Court observed that activists did not have any agitation materials with them, they did not demand anything from the authorities by using placards. Court concluded that there was no picketing held in the meaning of Russian law on public meetings which means that persons detained did not conduct an illegal public gathering.

“This is our first considerable victory in courts in the legal fight with Moscow authorities and Moscow Mayor personally,” commented Mr. Alekseev, who wrote on his ballot paper in Russian No to homophobes! No to Luzhkov!.

“Lawlessness of the authorities can be witnessed during all our actions – but up to now we never won in court. This is a positive signal”.

Now acquitted, Russian activists are considering legal suit for moral damages against Moscow police for illegal arrest and detention.

President Putin’s ‘United Russia’ party overwhelmingly won parliamentary elections on December 2, though the Moscow list of the party with Mr. Luzhkov as its head got slightly less votes than in the country in general.

*GayRussia.Ru, UkGayNews.Org.Uk