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Gay Activists Arrested Outside Russian Embassy in Paris as They Tried to Deliver Petition Against Moscow Pride Violence
Nikolai Alekseev detained, others released. Tatchell outraged
Alekseev released just before 22:00 (Paris time)

 
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■ Well-known Russian gay activist and chief organiser of Moscow Pride Nikolai Alekseev outside the Russian Embassy in Paris moments before being arrested by the Paris police.
photo © Chad Meacham/Walk With Pride

 

PARIS, July 8, 2011    A number of gay activists were arrested in Paris this morning as they tried to deliver a petition to the Russian Embassy against the violence during Moscow Pride at the end of May.

The French-language LGBT Website, Yagg, is reporting that among those arrested were Louis-Georges Tin, the founder of International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia who was among those arrested during Moscow Gay Pride; Russian activist Nikolai Alekseev; American photo-journalist Chad Meacham, who has spend more than 12 months photographing Prides mainly in eastern Europe; and Act Up-Paris co-chair Audrey Grelombe.

According to the brief initial report posted online in French by Yagg, there were five activists arrested, the fifth is now known to have been a second member of Act Up-Paris.

The reason for the arrests, the French Website says, was because the five were taking part in an unauthorised gathering.  The five were taken to a police station for identity checks.

All reports indicate that the attempt to deliver the 14,000-signature petition was entirely peaceful with those detained showing no sign of aggression.

13:40 (UK) Update: Four have been released by the police.  But, according to Mr. Tin, Mr. Alekseev is being held in detention. Mr. Alekseev asked the police in English for a lawyer and, Mr. Tin told UK Gay News, was insulted by the police officer who told him that he was not in Russia and to “go back to your country” before being dragged into a cell.

UK Gay News has requested by email a statement from the press office of the Department of the Interior in Paris.  A reply is still awaited.

16:00 (UK) Update: In London, Peter Tatchell, who was at last May's Moscow Pride and spoke at the rally last weekend outside the Russian Embassy in London, saluted the five campaigners arrested today in Paris.

“The French police seem to be behaving like their thuggish Moscow counterparts,” he said.   Were they acting in response to Russian demands for the petition delivery to be blocked?

“Questions need to be asked in the French parliament about who authorised these heavy-handed and unjustified arrests,” he told UK Gay News.

“It is astonishing that these campaigners were arrested for merely delivering a petition to the Russian Embassy.  It was not a demonstration, so how can they be arrested for staging a unauthorised protest?

“The extended detention of Nikolai Alekseev is outrageous.  It looks xenophobic,” he suggested.

18:00 (UK) Update: In a statement issued in Paris this afternoon, the Committee of International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) said it was “quite shocked by the incomprehensible attitude of the French police”.

“The five people arrested just headed with a petition with to the Russian Embassy. This is their crime?  France had criticised Russia, when Louis-Georges Tin and Nicolas Alekseev were arrested on May 28 during the Moscow Pride.  But today it is the French police who stopped them, with other activists.

“The IDAHO Committee demands the immediate release of Nicolas Alekseev, and seeks explanations in the Ministry of Interior.  This incident gives a disastrous image of France at international level.

“Worldwide, Nicolas Alekseev and Louis-Georges Tin have campaigned to defend Moscow Pride.  The two countries where they could could no campaign freely – and both were arrested – are Russia and France,” the statement concluded.

18:00 (UK) Update: Back in London, The Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association (GALHA) tonight condemned the arrest and detention the activists in Paris.

“These are the kind of repressive measures that you might expect in a brutal dictatorship,” chairperson Adam Knowles said in a statement.

“It beggars belief that they can happen in Western Europe in this day and age, and in France, a country with a long and proud record in defending liberty, equality and fraternity, and in a city with an openly gay Mayor.

"We call upon the French authorities to investigate these disgraceful events.  We also call upon the Mayor of Moscow and the Russian Government to recognise the right of its gay and lesbian citizens to March peacefully through the streets of Moscow.”

19:30 (UK) Update: About  45 protesters turned up for tonights planned demonstration outside the Russian Embassy in Paris.  They faced about 150 riot police.

Reports say that Mr. Alekseev was injured at the police station where he is being held and he has asked for medical attention. He is due to appear before the magistrate within the hour on the ‘catch-all’ charge of ‘rebellion’.

21:00 (UK) Update: Nikolai Alexseev has just been released from custody. He spoke very briefly by phone to UK Gay News saying he was on the Metro on his way back to the hotel.  It is not known whether he appeard before a magistrate.  Louis-Georges Tin told UK Gay News by email that the IDAHO Committee had been constantly pressing both the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Justice for an explanation.

23:00 (UK) Update: And so ends an eventful day in Paris ... final 'tweets' from a now free Nikolai Alekseev, who is safely back in his hotel:

10.5 hours of detention in Paris police station just for the intention to give a petition on Moscow Pride to the Russian Embassy!;

Paris! My first arrest outside of Russia! 3 times of fingerprints, violent attack by the police officer, handcuffs, cells etc etc.;

There is a saying: "To see Paris and to die". Today I can rephrase it this way: "I saw Paris and don't want to die. Paris died for me".  

Two weeks ago, a similar protest was staged outside the Russian Embassy in Berlin.  There were no problems at either Berlin or London events.

 
■ Louis-Georges Tin of IDAHO and Act Up-Paris co-chair Audrey relombe moments before being arrested by the Paris police this morning.
photo © Chad Meacham/Walk With Pride
 

SEE ALSO

Dernière Minute: Nikolai Alekseev, Audrey Grelombe, Louis-Georges Tin et Charles Meacham Arrêté-e-s Devant l’Ambassade de Russie à Paris.   Selon nos informations, confirmées par Act Up-Paris et Louis-Georges Tin, plusieurs militant-e-s LGBT ont été interpellé-e-s vers 11h20 devant l’ambassade de Russie à Paris, à quelques heures d’une manifestation programmée pour ce soir à 19 heures.  (Yagg, July 8, 2011)

Николай Алексеев и Луи-Жорж Тан арестованы перед российским посольством в Париже.  (GayRussia, July 8, 2011) 

 

 

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Posted: 8 July 2011 at 12:30 (UK time)
(updated frequently - last time at 23:00)

   
             
       

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