To Russia With Love: Cops, Neo-Nazis, Corruption, And Courage At Moscow Pride

Last we had heard, Moscow police arrested 18 gay rights activists and 14 anti-gay demonstraters at Moscow’s gay pride this Saturday including DADT activist Dan Choi, UK gay rights activist Peter Tatchell, founder of the International Day Against Homophobia and the editor of The Dictionary of Homophobia Louis-George Tin, and co-founder of the Gay Liberation Network Andy Thayer. Choi reported slight bleeding and ringing in his right ear after the arrest. He and the other non-Russian protestors eventually got released from jail later that day, though the Russian protestors stayed in jail.

Here’s video of the day’s events:

Two women peacefully display their rainbow flag at the Pride March only to be quickly mobbed by police and dragged away.

Dan Choi’s section of the march gets mobbed by police as well, his fliers taken. Choi gets carried away by men who cover his mouth as he attempts to yell “Glasnost!”—a cry for acknowledgement of the government’s shortcomings.

Using his cell phone camera, Choi reports direct from the police paddy wagon moments after his arrest.

You can see a shocking photo gallery of the clash between protestors, Neo-Nazis, and police that shows LGBT marchers being attacked and Choi getting manhandled and silenced by police (here’s another one full of police brutality). Here’s some more colorful pics of other arrestees that we haven’t seen on other blogs.

But what actually happened in Moscow? British gay rights activist Peter Tatchell has a good idea:

“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.”

He’s more than likely right as even the Saturday live-blogger noted some collusion between the cops and the Neo-Nazis early that morning. In the pictures of Choi’s arrest you can also see plainclothes police assisting in the arrest. Incognito officers or just very helpful Neo-Nazis? Hmmm…

A national tabloid called Pravda (which used to be the leading newspaper of the Soviet Union and an official organ of the Central Committee of the Communist Party between 1912 and 1991) ran this very tasteful picture of homos sucking face with Wetboro Baptist Church members behind them along with a disingenuous article about how the police were just trying to protect the marchers (awww, how sweet!). Mmhmm:

It should be noted that the detention in this case was, in particular, and a measure to protect members of the gay movement from violent towards them members of counter-rally.

“In the end, few people care about what two people do at home behind closed doors. But if they start to do it publicly – is in any case the offense. And even if they start loudly on the public informed about the details of their sex life, they are likely to be either in the ambulance or the police station. And then it does not matter what sexual orientation they adhere to.”

Y’hear that, fellow Russian? If you act all faggoty anywhere but your locked bedroom, you should expect serious injury or arrest because that’s just how things go. Luckily, John Aravosis from AmericaBlog directly challenged Pravda’s slanted version of events by posting pictures of the police disturbing the peaceful march with violent arrests.

Openly gay singer Adam Glambert (we added the G because he’s gorgeous, darling) actually performed in Moscow the day of Moscow Pride and tweeted, “So shocked that this happened today at the same hour and same city as I was performing in. #majordamperonthings.” Dan Choi appreciated Glambert mentioning it.

Moments after his release, Dan began an online letter that he intends to personally deliver to Secretary Clinton asking the U.S. to condemn the anti-LGBT violence in Moscow and reaffirm the human rights of LGBT people in Russia and around the world.

Then yesterday, the U.S. government issued the following statement:

Office of the Spokesman

For Immediate Release

May 29, 2011



Concern about Freedom of Assembly in Russia

We note with concern that in Moscow on Saturday, May 28, a peaceable demonstration of Russians advocating for the rights of gays and lesbians, joined by international supporters, was forcefully disrupted by counter-protesters, and that Russian security forces then detained people from both groups, including American citizens. Some protestors were seriously injured according to media reports.

Freedom of assembly is a fundamental right all members of the OSCE committed to, including in the Moscow declaration and as recently as the Astana summit. As nationwide legislative elections approach, constraints on the ability of Russian citizens peacefully to gather and express their views will be closely watched in evaluating the integrity of the electoral process. We call on Russian authorities to work with municipal officials to find better ways to safeguard these fundamental freedoms.

Although he appreciated the statement’s significance (the world is watching, Russia) AmericaBlog’s Aravosis found the statement “problematic”, namely because it buys that Russian police actually tried to protect the protestors instead of actively disrupting them.

When Choi saw the statement, he used Twitter to highlight the people they forgot to mention:

Most recently the “Edinburgh-based LGBT charity the Equality Network delivered a card of commiseration to the Russian consulate in Edinburgh regarding this weekend’s violence at Moscow Pride.”