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Moscow City Hall Quiet as 120 Journalists Check In For Moscow Gay Pride

 

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OTHER MOSCOW PRIDE 2007 COVERAGE ON UK GAY NEWS

Moscow Pride:  A Photo EssayEight photographs from l Moscow Pride. 2007

Moscow Gay Pride: Tatchell’s Assailant Not Arrested, Say Police. Moscow police confirm that they have opened a criminal investigation into the assault on British gay human rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell, at last Sunday's Moscow Gay Pride event.  But official police claims that they have arrested the right-wing extremist who punched Mr Tatchell in the face are untrue, according to the investigating officer.  (UK Gay News, June 1)

Moscow Gay Pride Organiser Khramov Found Guilty.  One of the three organisers of Moscow Pride has escaped a jail sentence and was fined when found guilty this afternoon in a Moscow court which threw-out evidence, given at a previous hearing by a number of MPs from Europe, as “frivolous”.  (UK Gay News, June 8)

Portuguese Gay Group Slams Russia, the EU and Portugal’s PM Over Moscow Pride.  The Portuguese gay and lesbian group Panteras Rosa (Pink Panthers) today hit out against the Russian authorities after the weekend’s violence in Moscow during Gay Pride.  (UK Gay News, May 29).

European Union Must Impose Travel Ban on Moscow Mayor of Gay Pride Trouble – Greens.  The British Green Party has today called for a European Union travel ban on the Mayor of Moscow, Yuri Luzhkov, following violence in the streets of the capital on Sunday during Gay Pride – and heavy-handed police tactics which saw many arrests.  (UK Gay News, May 28)

Moscow Pride:  A Photo EssayEight photographs from l Moscow Pride. 2007

Moscow Gay Pride: Tatchell’s Assailant Not Arrested, Say Police. Moscow police confirm that they have opened a criminal investigation into the assault on British gay human rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell, at last Sunday's Moscow Gay Pride event.  But official police claims that they have arrested the right-wing extremist who punched Mr Tatchell in the face are untrue, according to the investigating officer.  (UK Gay News, June 1)

Moscow Gay Pride Organiser Khramov Found Guilty.  One of the three organisers of Moscow Pride has escaped a jail sentence and was fined when found guilty this afternoon in a Moscow court which threw-out evidence, given at a previous hearing by a number of MPs from Europe, as “frivolous”.  (UK Gay News, June 8)

Portuguese Gay Group Slams Russia, the EU and Portugal’s PM Over Moscow Pride.  The Portuguese gay and lesbian group Panteras Rosa (Pink Panthers) today hit out against the Russian authorities after the weekend’s violence in Moscow during Gay Pride.  (UK Gay News, May 29).

European Union Must Impose Travel Ban on Moscow Mayor of Gay Pride Trouble – Greens.  The British Green Party has today called for a European Union travel ban on the Mayor of Moscow, Yuri Luzhkov, following violence in the streets of the capital on Sunday during Gay Pride – and heavy-handed police tactics which saw many arrests.  (UK Gay News, May 28)

May 28:  USA:    Beach, or Beaten in Moscow?  Commentary by Sara Whitman.  I sat at the beach today, and wondered how many people thought Allan and I, with Zachary in tow, thought we were heterosexual.  Okay, Allan in his tiny Speedo and me in my giant one piece Speedo and, of course, gym shorts, were not exactly looking incredibly straight but the image was enough to bother me.  I had read this morning that over thirty gay activists had been arrested in Moscow.

May 28:  UK/Russia:  London Mayor Appeals to Moscow For End of Gay Pride Ban.   Following yesterday’ violence against lesbian and gay rights demonstrators in Moscow – and the arrest of several of the demonstrators – the Mayor of London Ken Livingstone has this morning written to his Moscow counterpart Mayor Luzhkov urging that no charges be brought against those who were demonstrating for lesbian and gay rights.

May 28:  Russia:  Gay Pride Organisers Alekseev and Two Others Await Court  – 15 Days In Prison Expected.  Nikolai Alekseev and two colleagues from Moscow Gay Pride are spending tonight in police custody at they await a court appearance later this morning.

May 28:  Russia:  Ahwazi Arabs Condemn Arrest of Gay Rights Demonstrators in Moscow.  Ahwazi Arab activists last night condemned the treatment of gay rights activist Peter Tatchell and other demonstrators in Moscow yesterday.

May 27:  Russia:  Peter Tatchell Speaks About His Experience of Gay Pride, the Assault and His Arrest.  Arrests and violent attacks marred today’s attempted Moscow Gay Pride march.  Fifteen to 20 marchers were arrested.  The organiser of Moscow Pride, Nikolai Alekseev, is being detained overnight at Moscow’s Tverskoi district police station, together with two prominent members of Russia’s Radical and Free Radical parties, Nikolai Khramov and Sergei Konstantinov.  British gay human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell was one of several Gay Pride marchers who were beaten today by gangs of neo-Nazis, nationalist extremists and Russian Orthodox fundamentalists.

May 27:  Russia:  Arrested Gay Pride Activist Asks World for Help.  From inside the Tverskoye police station, where he is being detained, Nikolai Alekseev – one of the Moscow Gay Pride organisers and its spokesperson – has issued a statement asking for international support and for the immediate release of all the gays activists currently being held.

May 27: 
Russia
  Moscow Gay Pride: Dispatches from the Front There was trouble in Moscow today when participants at Gay Pride,, led by a number of European politicians, tried to deliver a letter of protest to Mayor Yuri Luzhkov at City Hall.  Violence flared as they faced groups of neo-Facist thugs, religious groups, aggressive police and the OMON.  This is a "record" of the dispatches received by UK Gay News from many sources.

May 27:  Russia Tatchell at Moscow Gay Pride: We Are In This Fight Together.  Greetings!  I bring you a message of comradeship and solidarity from the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex [LGBTI] human rights organizations OutRage! in London.  Your struggle is our struggle. This is the full text of Peter Tatchell's keynote speech to the Moscow Gay Pride Conference yesterday

May 27: 
Russia
Moscow Gay Pride 2006: Where Were the Human Rights Campaigners? The Same Question Can be Asked Today The following commentary by GayRussia.ru was written a year ago.  Has the situation changed?  The stark answer is: “Not really”.   Ludmila Alekseeva of the Moscow Helsinki Group and Lev Ponomarev of the Movement for Human Rights have both declined to come, just as last year.

May 26:  Russia Moscow Gay Pride Blog.

May 25:  Russia Tatchell: The Right To Hold Moscow Pride Is Not Just an Issue of Gay, Lesbian Rights International solidarity can help give a psychological and practical boost to local LGBT activists, Peter Tatchell said shortly after arriving in Moscow for the city’s second Gay Pride.
 

May 25:  Russia
She Promises, She Delivers – Vladimir Luxuria in Moscow for Gay Pride.  An interview with Europe's first trangendered politician.

 
   



 

 
■ The meeting room of the Swissotel Moscow where today's Moscow Gay Pride conference is being held.
 

MOSCOW, May 26, 2007 (GayRussia.ru)  –  With Gay Pride about to start, Moscow is surprisingly quiet.  Not a single official statement has been released by Mayor of Moscow, unlike at the same time last year.

Even the weather is different – last year rain was the order of the day.  Right now a sunny and hat weekend awaits the 200 or so participants attending today’s LGBT conference and who knows how many who will take part in tomorrow’s Pride March.

And journalists are starting to “smell” a story later in the day.

Alexey Davydov, who is in charge of media coordination, said that this year Pride has two direct lines for reporters

“The phone has been ringing all the time for the last two days,” he said.  “We have 120 journalists accredited from 60 different media organisations.  The interest is already much bigger than last year at the same time.”

With City Hall so quiet, speculation is rife among reporters that the march might after all be sanctioned – could it be that the Kremlin has issued orders?  After all, with so many writers and broadcasters in town, and Russia’s bid to host the 2014 Winter Olympics – selection is made in two months, it would not be “good press” to have bad publicity over Gay Pride, especially as the IOC pays increasing attention to “diversity” these days.

Nikolai Alekseev, one of the Pride organisers and the group’s spokesperson agreed that there was much speculation among the Press.

“This year, Pride is discussed at the high levels and has been taken very seriously by the authorities, though no public statement was really made” he said this morning.

“It’s hard to say if this is connected with the bid of Sochi to host the 2014 Olympics or if there is a desire in Kremlin to annoy the mayor.”

But, he agreed that chaos in Moscow at tomorrow’s march would probably damage Russia’s reputation as well as its capabilities of protecting an international event lie the Winter Olympics.

And he pointed out that broadcasters had estimated that around one billion people worldwide had seen television news reports of the violence at last year’s Pride.

Tverskaya, the most famous street of Moscow where City Hall and office of Mayor Luzhkov is located, was covered yesterday evening with stickers supporting Pride.  Last year, the picket in support of sexual minorities took place in front of the city hall and was violently disrupted by anti riot police and ultra orthodox protesters.

The Second Moscow Gay Pride gets underway this morning with the conference which is followed at 4pm (Moscow time – UTC +4) with a press conference.

Hosted by Project GayRussia.Ru, the leading Russian gays and lesbian advocacy group, conference organisers have invited OutRage!, the British LGBT human rights group, as a guest of honour – last year it was International Day Against Homophobia.

Like last year, the conference will take place at the Moscow Swissotel.

Asked about the choice of this expensive hotel to host a human rights conference, Mr. Alekseev explained that there is no other alternative to stage a major event in a secure and safe place.

“All the conference venues in Moscow have refused us a room – and it’s the same for other hotels.

“I must admit that Swissotel is probably the only hotel in Moscow which does not discriminate against any of its customers.  They are courageous to make their facilities available to us.”

He pointed out that next autumn’s InterPride conference is to be held at the Swissotel in Zurich.

Like last year, tight security has been put in place at the hotel.

“We did not have a big choice.  That was part of the deal with the hotel.  The authorities clearly declined to ensure protection of the building,” said Mr. Alekseev

“We have more foreign politicians than last year, and we also expect a much bigger crowd hence creating a need for an efficient protection,” he pointed out.

Asked why he did not try to host the event in a gay club or a human rights centre, Mr. Alekseev pointed out the problems.

“Last year we relied on the 3 Monkeys gay club in Moscow where we were supposed to stage the Moscow Pride show by French singer Desireless.

“But the owner cancelled the event two hours before the start, leaving us with all the expenses.

“And we have learned last night that we were not welcome anymore in the club – this is where we where supposed to meet tonight with all the foreign guests, including the Russian pop singing group tATu, who have flown in from Los Angeles especially for Pride.

“There is a clear hysteria about the pride among gay business owners,” Mr. Alekseev admitted.

“They are ready to step on fundamental rights of their own citizen just to feed their wallet.  You are at risk, if you trust on them to help you,” he claimed.

The ‘local anti gay pride figure’ is Alexey Khodorkovskiy, the owner of the QGuys gay dating website.

“Of course, he does not need a pride in Moscow.  He owns several companies, and lives in Russia and the US.

“A Gay Pride in Russia would only harm his local business,” Mr. Alekseev charged.

Last year, Mr. Khodorkovskiy was among the organisers who tried to stage a Moscow gay week in April and May.  Despite a last minute cancellation of their events due to heavy security threats, two clubs were attacked by 50 nationalists and a third one was fully burnt.

Since then, the organisers of that event have adopted an “anti public action” attitude, arguing that the society is not ready.

“This is more a lack of preparation and professionalism” Alekseev said.  “We never forced anyone to go in the streets and will never do” he argued.

“Our event needs a particular logistics and security that human rights centres are not able to offer. We attempted to host our press conference at the Moscow Helsinki Group but five protesters came in.

“Thanks to the presence of the bodyguards of one member of the Duma who was among the speakers, nothing untoward happened and we avoided giving the satisfaction to fascists in disrupting our event.

“This is a reminder that particular care needs to be taken for LGBT events in Moscow.  I prefer that delegates are unable to buy a coffee at Swissotel than they end up possibly suffering from a gas – or worse – in another place,” he said, referring to the pepper gas attack last year during a lecture on Oscar Wilde by his grandson, Merlin Holland.

Even the Swissotel has its limitations.  The conference room has a capacity for 170 delegates.

“We had to close conference registration three days ago when we reached 200 participants,” said Nikolai Baev, conference organiser.

“Activists from Moscow, St. Petersburg, Voronezh, Lipetsk, Omsk, Kaliningrad, Ivanovo and Tver have arrived in Moscow for the event. Also we have people here from Belarus and Ukraine.

“This year, there are less delegates came from Western Europe,” he said.  “They have helped us last year, showing that everything is possible when you want it.  This has worked.  There is a clear dynamic among local people  – and not only activists,” he pointed out.

Perhaps the most ‘headline-grabbing’ aspect of the conference will be the promised attendance of Archbishop Alexiy of the Russian Orthodox Church.  The Archbishop, who was the Church’s representative in Italy, is to talk on “The Church in the 21st Century and LGBT Community”.  The Archbishop has quit the Church.

He has indicated that he is planning to attend tomorrow’s Pride March and will bless the participants.

Among the politician will be Edward Murzin, a member of the Baskortostan Parliamenrt, will discuss his anti-homophobia legislative initiatives, and Vladimir Luxuria, the transgender Member of Italian parliament who will discuss rights of citizenships for transgender people.

There will also be Russian activists speaking.

Olga Zhuk, a famous lesbian activist in the 90’s who is now now exiled in Berlin, will discuss about activism in the beginning of the 1990’s, Nikolai Baev, local activist will raise the issue of homophobia in Russian politics, Alexey Davydov, from LGBT Rights, will discuss the problems – and solutions–  of LGBT activism and human rights movements, and Irina Fet, a lesbian activist will raise the problems of LGBT in the province.

It is still unclear whether leading figures of the ‘traditional’ Russian human rights movement will show up at the conference

Gay Rights are quite new in the agenda of human rights activists, Mr. Alekseev pointed out .

Peter Tatchell said yesterday in an interview with GayRussia.Ru: “When human rights activists pick and choose which freedoms to defend they are compromising the whole human rights agenda.  The fundamental, non-negotiable principle is that human rights are universal and indivisible”.

Ludmila Alekseeva from Moscow Helsinki Group and Lev Ponomarev, Movement for Human Rights, first agreed to speak at the press conference earlier this month and then cancelled their participation.

“We do not know if we will see them tomorrow – but we will keep a chair from them until the end of the day” said Mr. Alekseev.

The press conference will feature both Russians and those from other countries.  From the European Parliament there will be  Sophie In’ t Veld and Marco Cappato;  Member of the German Bundestag Volker Beck, who was assaulted during the Pride last year;  Member of Italian Parliament and first elected transexual deputy in Europe, Vladimir Luxuria; and Gebi Mair, city councillor of Innsbruck (Austria).

Human rights and gay activists will be represented by Peter Tatchell from OutRage!, and Kurt Krickler from HOSI-Wien in Austria.

On the Russian side, the most sensational attendees will be tATu, the only Russian popstar group to have openly supported the Gay Pride march.  Member of Russian Duma, Alexey Mitrofanov  will also be there. 

He is the first Russian politician at a national level to officially support the gay march.  He is also the deputy head of the Duma Committee on Constitutional legislation and has already pointed out that banning tomorrow’s event is contrary to the Russian constitution.  Mr. Murzin will also be speaking at the press conference.

The plans for tomorrow’s march will also be revealed at the press conference – organisers last night put the final touches to their plans.

“We have made four alternatives over the last months and the current situation, as well as some recent events, made it easily to select one alternative” said Mr. Alekseev.  “Plans are ready and we’ll unveil them at the Press Conference”.

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Posted: 26 May 2007 at 05:00 (UK time)

 

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