Monday, 20 September 2010

First call for action after abduction of Russian LGBT leader

Alekseev with papier-mache dummy resembling Luzhkov
By Paul Canning

Update: 21 September

Facebook statement 9.30pm (Moscow): All lesbian and gay activists arrested at today's demo in front of the Moscow City Hall have been released.

GayRussia. ru statement: activists were tailed during the day by police. Split into two groups, one chains themselves to railings. Alekseev's group has doll of Mayor Luzhkov. The head is symbolically broken off.
In general, the activists of project GayRussia. Ru evaluate the action near the City Hall as a very lucky because they managed to draw attention to the arbitrariness of Mayor Luzhkov and absurdity of his system the suppression of civil rights. Everybody saw that the doll Luzhkov finally lost his head.
Eleven arrested. spoke with Nikolai in Tverskoy police station whilst waiting for police to finish the "protocols" of the arrests.
He said: "We handcuffed ourselves to the fence and the police took us out by force.
They broke the handcuffs, my hand is all [covered] in blood."
He estimated that between 40 and 50 participants joined the protest but said he did not know if others were being held at other police stations.
AP reports that:
The activists handcuffed themselves to a monument for the 13th-century Russian prince who founded Moscow, displayed a papier-mache dummy resembling Luzhkov and unfurled posters ridiculing the mayor and his billionaire wife, Yelena Baturina.
Beheaded Mayor Luzhkov
in Moscow police statio
From inside a police van he told AP: "I had no hope it would end peacefully. This lawlessness will go on as long as this lowlife rules the city."

He also spoke with UK Gay News from inside the police van saying:
“Today it was like a VIP service at the police station,” Mr. Alekseev said on his release. “The police did everything to write the protocols and get rid of us as fast as possible.  We have been charged for taking part into an unsanctioned event only and not for disobeying police orders.  As a result, the maximum sentence is a fine. My case is scheduled for Oct 6.
“I have never seen any such service from this police station in the last five years that I have been regularly taken there when conducting our actions,” he said.
And in a twist to the story, he said: “Luzhkov will be taken to court, well, at least his image. The police confiscated the doll of the Mayor that I was carrying at the protest and they will bring it as a proof to Court.”
Protest video. Facebook commentator Alex Moskovkin translating from the Russian: "He calls the Moscow mayor a bitter homo demanding his resignation, says that the government is corrupt, homophobic, and unlawfully detains peaceful demonstrators. The phrase on the poster roughly translated means "Luzhkov and his wife are a hand and glove""

Nikolai: "Poster says "Luzhkov is gomik and pederast"."


Russian LGBT leader Nikolai Alekseev has called for international protests against Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov.

In a Facebook posting he announces that an unauthorised protest tomorrow, 21 September, at 6pm in front of Moscow City Hall calling for Luzhkov to be removed and prosecuted will be going ahead. The protest will now also "demand an investigation and punish those responsible" for the kidnapping of Alekseev.

Alexseev also points out that as Luzhkov is in Austria "with his billioneer wife ... It [protests] can especially be effective in Austria!!!"

Luzhkov has refused to allow any Moscow Pride public events or demonstrations by LGBT. Moscow Pride is the subject of a case before the European Court of Human Rights.

The Mayor is currently engaged in an internal Russian political battle for survival and is being investigated for money laundering. State television has run a number of stories accusing him of corruption. The Austrian newspaper Der Standard suggested on Friday that the kidnapping of Alekseev "had been staged by the security forces to support Luzhkov or to discredit the views of other analysts". Russian President Medvedev is believed to want Luzhkov removed but he is supported by Prime Minister Putin.

Alekseev was abducted last week and told RFE "I don't think federal structures would have resorted to such means if they had wanted something from me. I think this is largely linked to Moscow authorities and the actions we have taken against them at the European Court." However in an interview today with Russian Newsweek he said "I do not care who was behind it all" but linked his abduction to "these obscure political games around the future of Luzhkov... it may be people who want to spoil things for Luzhkov - or vice versa."
The magazine also asked him whether it could be linked to a report due on Thursday on Russian TV station NTV which will discuss the presence of powerful but closeted gay men in Russia, both politicians and pop stars. On activist Nicola Baev says that no Russian pop stars have been prepared to support the LGBT community.

In a statement published on the website - which mysteriously went down during Alekseev's abduction - organizers have said the ban on their demonstration goes against Article 31 of the Russian constitution, which guarantees freedom of assembly. They say authorities said the protest was banned because of "the inability to ensure the safety of the protesters because of "the narrow pavements and heavy pedestrian traffic" and "conclusions of the Committee on Cultural Heritage in Moscow the impossibility of holding public events on Tverskaya Square (which is a monument to Yuri Dolgoruky ").

They also link the protest to Alekseev's abduction and [Google translation] "the requirement of respecting human rights, we call not only for the resignation of the mayor, but also to immediately investigate all crimes Luzhkov: from economic to crimes against fundamental human rights, and establishment of Luzhkov there, where it should be - in prison! From now on, our slogan: Luzhkov should go to jail!"

Luzhkov has called Moscow Pride "satanic" and said "we think that destructive sects and propaganda of same-sex love are inadmissible."

In January he said: "It is high time to crack down on the parade with all the power and justice of the law, instead of talking about human rights. (...) We need a social whip or something like that."

Russian Newsweek today published a list of '12 things Muscovites will lose when Luzhkov goes'. Third was a 'persecution of gay parades'.


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