Moscow Pride, held Saturday despite a government ban, ended in around 18 people — 15 of them Russian — being arrested with some alleging they were beaten, as well as several claims that police colluded with neo-Nazis to interrupt the parade. Among those arrested was American LGBT rights activist and former soldier Lt Dan Choi who was filmed apparently being mobbed and seized by a group of plain clothed police.
Army veteran and gay activist Dan Choi, Chicago activist Any Thayer were among at least 18 people who were mobbed at a gay pride parade in Moscow by police and a group of Neo-Nazis on Saturday.
Video of the attack was posted on AmericaBlog, in which Choi and Thayer are walking quietly, when a mob of uniformed and undercover police attack them.
According to British gay rights activist Peter Tatchell, the arrests took place between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. Moscow time.
Choi and seven others were carted off to Presnensky Police Station in Moscow after the attack. He and the other foreign protesters were released without a charge or fine, but the Russians will have to remain overnight.
Choi and other foreign-born activists were later released from prison with only minor injuries. Read more here.
Writing for UK news site Pink News, Tatchell elaborates on his belief that Neo-Nazi groups were used by police to break up the parade:
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.
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.
As previously reported, early hopes were that Moscow Pride would be sanctioned by Moscow City Hall’s new administration.
This follows an October 2010 decision in which the European Court of Human Rights ruled unanimously that banning Moscow Pride events, as was the case between 2006-2008, breached three separate articles of the European Convention which guarantees freedom of assembly, the right not to be discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation, and the right to effective legal remedy. Russia appealed to the Grand Chamber, but the Grand Chamber upheld the ruling.
However, what appeared to be the go ahead for a Pride event last month turned out to be false — Moscow officials banned Pride citing, as the previous administration had, that they were unable to ensure the safety of participants.
Organizers said at the time that, while fully expecting a hostile reception, they would march regardless so that their voices weren’t silenced.
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