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Moscow Court Rules Russian President Immune From Gays




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MOSCOW, July 8, 2008 (  –  The Tverskoi District Court of Moscow has refused to consider the complaint lodged with the court by the organisers of Moscow Gay Pride against the inaction of the Russian President, Dmitriy Medvedev, following the request to stage their Pride march on May 31 at Alexandrovskiy Sad within the Kremlin.

In his decision, federal judge Alexey Sevalkin made references to a number of articles of Russian Constitution, mainly Article 91, which says the President of Russian Federation has immunity against any legal actions.

The Court held that even though the Constitution says that “everyone is equal before the law and the court”, there are a few persons who are protected by their immunity.

In addition, the Court said that the case against the President can not be considered in civil proceedings but did not specify how to make the head of state accountable for his inactions which contradict the Russian legislation.

Moscow Pride organisers appealed against the President to the Court on June 23.

They were denied marches on any day during May by the Moscow authorities and, as a result, they applied to the President for permission to hold the march in Alexandrovskiy Sad with 200 participants.

Alexandrovskiy Sad is one of only few places in Moscow which is under the jurisdiction of the President and not Moscow authorities.

The letter to the Russian President was handed to his administration on May 16. Five days later, the letter was forwarded to the Prefecture of the Central Administrative Area of Moscow.

Presidential Administration relied on the provision of the law which allows them to forward the letter to the competent authority.

In their complaint to Tverskoi District Court, organisers of Moscow Pride insisted that the questions raised in the letter to the President concerning the conduct of the public event in Alexandrovskiy Sad are the jurisdiction of the President.

This, they claimed, is clearly written in Article 8 of the Federal Law on assemblies, meetings, demonstrations, marches and pickets.

According to the law on consideration of citizens’ letters, Moscow Pride organisers had the right to receive a motivated reply from the Russian President on the issues raised in their letter.  The reply was supposed to be given within a 30-day period.

The applicants asked Tverskoi District Court to judge that inaction of the President was unlawful and oblige the head of state to give a motivated reply to the letter of the Pride organisers in accordance with his competence.

Nikolai Alekseev, the principal organiser of Moscow Pride, said when applying to court that “representatives of the Russian authorities talk a lot about the necessity to follow the law and at the same time they did not learn how to do it themselves.

“They demand it from their citizens.  The President quite possibly did not know anything about our letter to him though we, as applicants, are not obliged to understand how bureaucratic procedures of Kremlin administration work,” he continued.

“Our letter was addressed to the President and that is the reason why we apply to court against the President.”

Mr. Alekseev suggested that “Presidential administration officials probably again wanted to put all responsibility on Moscow authorities; but in this case representatives of the Prefecture acted in accordance with their powers and sent the letter back to the Administration.

“Only the President has powers to allow the events in Alexandrovskiy Sad,” he pointed out.

“We applied to the President Dmitriy Medvedev as a safeguard of the Constitution because Moscow authorities unlawfully denied us our constitutional right to freedom of assembly enshrined in Article 31 of the Constitution”.

“It’s a pity that the President, even though he proclaimed that he would fight for human rights, did not interfere and put an end to the unlawful actions of Moscow officials.”

On receiving the court judgment this morning, Mr. Alekseev said that “we are going to appeal this decision of Tverskoi District Court in Moscow City Court and take this case up to the European Court of Human Rights if needed.

“We were denied court protection which contradicts with the European Convention on Human Rights”.

He suggested “by issuing such a decision the court admitted full immunity of the head of state and his full unaccountability for the actions and inactions.  Now the President is not obliged to answer to any letters of Russian citizens, he can just ignore them.”.

The third Moscow Pride took place in Moscow on Sunday June 1.  Gay activists picketed the monument to the Russian composer Petr Tchaikovsky and then displayed a huge banner from one of the flats on Tverskaya Street in front of Moscow City Hall.  The banner read: “Rights to gays and lesbians! Homophobia of Moscow Mayor should be prosecuted”.



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Posted: 8 July 2008 at 13:00 (UK time)


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