|Faced with Mayor Yuri Luzhkov's ban on gay pride activities for the third year in a row, about 35 Moscow activists misled police into going to the wrong location and then successfully staged two surprise actions May 31 -- a rally at the Tchaikovsky statue
Faced with Mayor Yuri Luzhkovâ€™s ban on gay pride activities for the third year in a row, about 35 Moscow activists misled police into going to the wrong location and then successfully staged two surprise actions May 31. As city police and riot police blockaded City Hall, activists pulled off a demonstration nearby at the Tchaikovsky statue outside the Moscow Conservatory. They unfurled a banner and flags, spoke with trusted journalists who had accompanied them to the location, and chanted, â€śTchaikovsky was also gay,â€ť â€śNo to homophobesâ€ť and â€śEqual rights for LGBT.â€ť
The 12:45 p.m. action lasted about 15 minutes, after which the group staged a brief march down the street, then dispersed before police could arrive.
At 1:15 p.m., a second action began across the street from City Hall, where activists blockaded themselves inside a third-floor apartment and draped a large banner above the street that read, â€śRights for gays and lesbians - homophobia of Moscow mayor should be prosecuted.â€ť They also released 250 balloons from the apartmentâ€™s windows.
Anti-gay protesters threw garbage and eggs at the apartment balcony and at least 36 of them were arrested, police told Interfax.
At about 1:45 p.m., police began threatening to break down the door to the apartment.
Nearly eight hours later, they forced the door open and arrested four people inside, charging them with taking part in an unsanctioned demonstration and disobeying a police order.
â€śBreaking the door was an illegal action as the police did not carry an order signed by the court,â€ť said head pride organizer Nikolai Alekseev. â€śThis was a violation of private property.â€ť
The four individuals were held overnight, taken to court, then released. If found guilty when the case resumes, the activists likely will be fined.
â€śWe wanted to make this pride different from the last two years,â€ť Alekseev told the Moscow Times. â€śWe didnâ€™t want to have any more beatings in the street. We just want to show everyone that we are normal people.
â€śToday we showed that we are not only a force for gays but a political force and wonâ€™t compromise on our rights.â€ť
There are videos of the actions at youtube.com/nicklava2008.
-Assistance: Bill Kelley