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Russian Gay Activist Arrested at Moscow Airport As He
Was About to Board Swiss Air Lines Flight to Geneva
MOSCOW, September 15, 2010 – Russia’s best known gay rights activist was arrested this evening at Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport. And there are concerns as, so far, officials are not giving out any information about his whereabouts.
Nikolai Alekseev was about to board Swiss Air Lines flight LX 1337 for Geneva and had passed through passport control when he was arrested by Russian border police at about 7pm Moscow time (4pm UK).
No explanation has yet been given by officials as to why he was arrested.
He was taken to a closed room at the airport.
However, he was able to get messages out by mobile telephone of his arrest before his handset was confiscated as he was speaking with other activists at GayRussia.ru Website.
A group of three fellow activists, led by Nikolai Baev, immediately headed for the airport to assess the situation.
But airport police refused to give any further comment apart from saying that “Alekseev is not here”.
One police man did, however, suggest that Mr. Alekseev might have been transferred to the FSB, formally the KGB, headquarters on Lubianska Square in Moscow.
Ludmila Alekseeva from the Moscow Helsinki Group called the Main Office of the Moscow Police and was told that there is no track of the activist in their system.
Yesterday, activists from GayRussia announced that they had applied to stage a picket against the Moscow Mayor, Yuri Luzhkov, on September 21 on the occasion of his birthday. The theme of the picket was “Luzhkov – gomiki”.
Recently a Russian court confirmed that when the Mayor of Moscow called gays “gomiki” in the media, the term was not offensive. Gomiki is the translation of “faggot”
23:00 (UK) UPDATE:
In a statement from gay activists in Moscow, just received by UK Gay News, the Russian border police asked Swiss Air Lines to cancel his boarding pass and to offload his luggage from the plane, causing a 30-minute delay to the flight’s departure.
“[Mr. Alekseev] had time to call a friend as well as the news agency Interfax,” the statement read.
“Reports of his arrest have been republished in the evening through the Russian media. As he told his friends and the media, no explanation was given to him on the motive of his arrest. A group of three activists from GayRussia led by Nikolai Baev went to the airport to try to locate Nikolai.
“The airport police told them that Nikolai was not retained by the airport police and one police officer suggested that he was being interrogated by the FSB (ex-KGB) at its headquarter in Lubyanka (Central Moscow).
“A recent law passed by the Russian Parliament, and signed-off by President Medvedev in July of this year, allows the FSB to echo Soviet practices.
“The punishment for ignoring a warning was unclear, but 15-day jail sentences are envisaged for “obstructing an FSB officer's duties”.
“This new provision was denounced by human rights activists as an attempt to prevent human rights activists to organise rallies and public protest by pre-emptively arresting them. The headquarters of the Moscow Police told Human Rights activists Ludmila Alekseeva tonight that Nikolai Alekseev is not registered within their database.
“The FSB denied to answer questions tonight. No more information is expected before tomorrow morning.
“Under Russian law, enforcement authorities have no right to detain people for long periods without charges and without giving reasons for the detention, but this time has already expired at 10pm Moscow time,” the statement concluded.
SEE ALSO UPDATES
Sep 16: Russia: MEP on Russia Gay Rights: Alekseev’s Arrest Is of “Deep Concern”. An MEP has expressed “deep concern” following the arrest yesterday evening of Nikolai Alekseev, the high-profile Russian gay activist who was detained at Domodedovo Airport in Moscow as he was about to board a Swiss Air Lines flight to Geneva. Sarah Ludford, the LibDem MEP who sits with the ALDE group in the European Parliament, hit out at the Russian authorities today.
Sep 16: Russia: Alekseev: “They Want Me to Withdraw the Complaints to European Court over Moscow Gay Pride”. Russian authorities have detained the organiser of Moscow Gay Pride, Nikolai Alekseev, and are requiring him to abandon a picket, demanding the resignation of Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov. The authorities are also demanding that he withdraws lawsuits lodged with the European Court of Human Rights over the banning of Moscow Gay Prides over the past five years.
Questions Have to be Answered by Authorities in Russia and Belarus as Doubts Emerge About Well-Being of Russian Gay Activist. Commentary. Has Russian gay activist Nikolai Alekseev actually been released? And is he really in Minsk? These are questions being asked by Belarusian gay activists in Minsk this afternoon. (UK Gay News, September 17, 2010)
Russian Gay Activist: “I Never Was in Minsk – I Never Sent Any SMS Messages. “Abducted” Alekseev surfaces in Russia, not Belarus. “I never was in Minsk … My phone was taken from me two days ago …” These are the actual – and remarkable – words of Nikolai Alekseev, the gay Russian activist and chief organiser of Moscow Pride, who has surfaced somewhere in Russia. (UK Gay News, September 17, 2010)
English Translation of Russian Gay Activist Nikolai Alekseev’s Account of His Kidnapping: As It Was ... My Abduction. By Nikolai Alekseev. On September 15th nothing could have prepared me for what happened over the next three days. (UK Gay News, September 19, 2010)
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