London police are reviewing video and eye witness accounts that Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov‘s press secretary, Sergei Tsoi physically attacked and verbally threatened a Russian gay activist after a press conference last week.
Mayors from London, Paris, Moscow and Beijing had gathered in London to discuss policy issues, including gay rights. Luzhkov has come under pressure after banning Moscow’s gay pride and referring to homosexuality as “satanic”. As a press conference wrapped up, Nikolai Alekseev, a Moscow pride organizer, stood up and waved that symbol of fag freedom – the rainbow flag. Tsoi apparently didn’t appreciate the blatant display of liberation, because he allegedly started yelling at and pushing Alekseev in an attempt to take his flag. Staffers broke up the scuffle before the fists could fly. Now police are wondering whether they should press charges.
Of the attack, Alekseev remarked:
If in Russia people of such high standing get away in such incidents, in Britain there is a slightly different perception of law abiding. Next time staff of Moscow Mayor will think many times before to breach the law… Mr. Tsoi [had] used homophobic statements [before] and now he is underpinning them with actions in front of all the media, which means he feels more and more untouchable.
Though Tsoi can’t be arrested in Russia, if found guilty, he can be nabbed next time he heads on over to the UK. Something tells us he’ll be changing his travel plans.
Eminent and equally omnipresent British activist Peter Tatchell said:
It reveals yet again the repressive, authoritarian nature of the Mayor of Moscow’s regime… It was exceedingly discourteous for Mr Luzhkov’s staff to abuse the hospitality of the Mayor of London in this way.
It’s a regular comedy of manners.