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Russian Gays Outwit Police Dragnet To Hold Successful Pride Parade Without Arrests, Beatings

GLN permalink 5-30-2010

MOSCOW, Russia - Despite a vow by Moscow's anti-gay mayor that it would not happen, 30 Russian lesbian, gay and bisexual activists foiled the police and FSB security services by holding a 10 minute flashmob Gay Pride march on one of Moscow's major thoroughfares, Leningradsky Street, this afternoon, Saturday 29 May.

Carrying a 20 metre long rainbow flag and placards in Russian and English calling for "Rights for gays", the protesters chanted "No homophobia" and "Russia without homophobes."

"LGBT activists from Moscow, St Petersburg and Minsk staged today the first-ever successful Gay Pride in Moscow, despite the [government] ban," said Nikolai Alekseev, principal organizer for Moscow Pride. "Though the March was short - it happened. All the Russian media reported that for the first time in five years, the gay parade took place in Moscow without being arrested by the police and assaulted by protesters."

Photos, videos and more quotes message from Nikolai Alekseev can be found HERE.

"The guerrilla-style hit-and-run Moscow Gay Pride march was over before the police arrived. When they turned up, officers scurried around aimlessly, searching for protesters to arrest. All escaped the police dragnet," said British gay human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who joined today's parade to support the Russian gay campaigners.

"All morning the Gay Pride organisers fed the police a steady stream of false information, via blogs and websites, concerning the location of the parade... As a result, the police put the whole area in total lockdown, closing nearby streets and metro stations, in bid to prevent protesters assembling there."

"Through clever organizing and disciplined execution of their plan, Russian lesbian and gay organizers were able to outwit the vastly superior resources of the Russian state," said Andy Thayer of Chicago's Gay Liberation Network. "Russian gay organizers defied homophobic Mayor Yury Luzhkov's macho bluster, demonstrating great courage and determination. They showed that people can successfully organize for freedom even in very difficult circumstances. They not only set an example that LGBT people around the world can learn from, but gave hope for all Russians struggling for democracy and equal rights."

Even though police tailed journalists in hopes that they would lead officers to the demonstrators, Russian Pride organizers were able to "embed" and get coverage from major international news agencies including the Associated Press, Agence France Presse, Reuters, TF1 (1st channel of French television), dpa (Deutsche Press Agenture), Swedish television, BFM (French television), France2 (French television), and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Many independent journalists covered the event as well.


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