Sunday, May 29, 2011
Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell reports from Moscow Pride after a day of clashes between gay rights campaigners, Neo-Nazis and the police.
We witnessed a high level of fraternisation and collusion between neo-Nazis and the Moscow police. I saw neo-Nazis leave and re-enter police buses parked on Tverskaya Street by City Hall
Our suspicion is that many of the neo-Nazis were actually plainclothes police officers, who did to us what their uniformed colleagues dared not do in front of the world’s media. Either that, or the police were actively facilitating the right-wing extremists with transport to the protest.
During the Second World War, Mucovites stood against the Nazis. Now the Mayor of Moscow is colluding with neo-Nazis. He gave the neo-Nazi groups permission to stage a protest calling for violence against gay people, while denying Moscow Gay Pride a permit to rally for gay equality.
I went to City Hall to protest but was separated from our Gay Pride group. Neo-Nazis identified me for attack. Being alone and with the police refusing to protect us, I had to escape down side streets and alleyways to avoid a beating.
A total of 18 gay rights protesters – 15 of them Russian – were arrested, as they tried to stage the banned Moscow Gay Pride parade.
Some of the Moscow Gay Pride participants were seized by police bear the Kremlin, including international gay rights supporters Andy Thayer, Dan Choi and Louis-Georges Tin; plus Moscow Gay Pride committee member, Anna Komarova and other Russian gay activists.
Several more Russian lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) campaigners were arrested outside City Hall.
These arrests took place between 1pm and 2pm Moscow time.
Dan Choi, a US military officer who was dismissed from the American armed forces because of his homosexuality, was violently manhandled by police. He was wrestled to ground and punched. He has some minor injuries.
Neo-Nazis made repeated attempts to bash the LGBT campaigners as they were being arrested and taken to police buses. Some of the campaigners were struck but none were hurt seriously.
Anna Komarova reports being pressured by the police to give information about the organisation of Moscow Gay Pride. The police threatened to detain her for 48 hours unless she gave them the information they wanted.
By 6pm Moscow time, all 18 arrested gay pride protesters had been released.