A protest rally held in Moscow by a group of activists representing the LGBT, women’s, anti-fascist and left-wing movements ended in a violent confrontation with neo-Nazi groups on Saturday, October 1.
According to Margaret, a member of the Raduga Association (Moscow), and a participant in the rally the goal of the event was to protest against chauvinistic populism as the trend of the current election campaign involving stigmatization and appeals for discrimination of the more vulnerable segments of the society.
There is a draft bill restricting women’s right to abortion in Russia’s parliament and ‘gay propaganda’ is now illegal in two regions.
The protest was sanctioned by the Moscow government. Fascist groups had widely announced their intention to gather at the same place and “bathe in blood” the perceived “enemies of the Russian people.”
One organizer was immediately arrested by the police solely for carrying a (yet unfolded) poster saying “Say No to Discrimination on the Basis of Gender and Sexual Orientation.”
The fascist and Orthodox group, which included several elderly men and women holding Orthodox icons and images of Russia’s last emperor Nicholas, tried to pelt the protesters with tomatoes but police held them back.
One older counter-protester said:
“We wanted to see these demons, these beast in the flesh, for ourselves. It is because of them that God will punish the holy Russia and its people. They want to exterminate the holy nation of Russ.”
Younger fascists chanted calls to beat, torture and exterminate gays — incitement which met with little reaction on the part of the police.
The main slogans of the protesters were: “We stand for the freedom of choice!”, “Free and Safe Motherhood – Children that are Loved and Needed – Happy Families” and “If you say embryo is human, why are women not human for you?” But when gay rights was mentioned, police began grabbing people from the rally.
After it was finally decided to curtail the event ahead of scheduled time to prevent more protesters from being arrested, the activists had to be convoyed by the police to the metro station, surrounded by a raging crowd (see video). The police counteracted attempts by several able-bodied men to punch and kick young women, but several people later complained of bruises and minor injuries.
The main organizer of the repeatedly banned Moscow Pride, Nicolas Alexeyev, noted inaccurate reports of the rally as “First Gay Pride was authorized in Moscow.”
“To date, the only LGBT event allowed in Moscow which was applied took place last year in front of the office of Swiss Air Lines.”
This followed the bizarre and unexplained abduction of Alexeyev last year, which he claimed the airline abetted.
Alexeyev pointed out that reports of Russian authorities allowing gay events have been used before by Russia to claim they are not banned.
“We do not ban them, there was a gay pride authorized in St. Petersberg,” answered the Russian delegation.
Except, says Alexeyev, that what the delegation was referring to as a gay pride event was instead a rainbow ‘flash mob’ which was not authorized because no one had asked for permission.
“At this time, no LGBT public action had ever been authorized,” he adds.
By contrast, Moscow authorities have allowed numerous ‘death to gays’ rallies.
Watch the video of the rally speakers (in Russian):
Screengrab from video by GraniRu