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.”

Get Queerty Daily

Subscribe to Queerty for a daily dose of #andythayer #danchoi #johnaravosis stories and more


  • Tallskin

    Russia is a priest infested, backward, shithole.

    But fear not, it will be taken over by China soon, for its vastness of natural resources. Russia is a giant paper tiger, good for beating up defenceless gays, but useless against a real army.

  • Adonis-of-Fire

    The whole culture in Russia is fucked up, I have a friend Russia, young guy like me, I felt disgusted when he said “normal people will get mad if they see us acting gay and they are right”, so I told him that “normal people” can eat shit and die because we shouldn’t hide and repress ourselves to apeace anyone.
    It’s sad most of the gay youth in Russia are so brain washed into submission.

  • M.


    Not all guys here in Russia as your friend!

  • Ruhlmann

    @M.: Okay everybody, party at Uris we’re going to wear the hoods and stab some gay porn in the back yard. Don’t forget the orthodox broken bleeding christ! If they were not hurting people it would seem a lot funnier.

  • Jeffree

    Another view on Moscow…..Some of the the LGBT French press has a very different slant on “Moscow Pride:”

    1) They point out that a non-violent Pride was held in St. Petersburg a couple weeks ago. [Still a major city] It was well-attended by locals.and not covered by int’l LGBT media. A permit was granted for the event.

    2) They criticize Pride organizer Alexeyev for focusing more on international press / participants rather than local groups. They claim that he paid for Choi & Thayer, and possibly IDAHO chair J-LTin to be there.

    3) Alexeyev’s whereabouts were unknown during the event.

    I can’t verify the facts behind any of that, but it does raise good questions on what’s happening in Moscow versus the rest of Russia.

  • M.


    Bullshit and false!

  • M.

    “They point out that a non-violent Pride was held in St. Petersburg a couple weeks ago.”

    This organisation “LGBT-set'” is pro-kremlian cowards and pigs. That “pride” was without any slogans and flags.

    “It was well-attended by locals.and not covered by int’l LGBT media”

    Ahahahah)))))) Absolutely nobody didn’t show this cowardly march.

  • Kev C

    See, I think Dan and ruskie gays are doing it wrong. If I wanted a gay parade, I’d hand out free bottles of vodka to all the counter-protesters as a gesture of good will.

    Of course the bottles would be spiked with the hypersexual drug, Requip.

  • Todd

    Sorry it called democracy and Russia has right not to allow with them to parade. That great if someone wants to be proud about it in their country. They have to also accept the fact others don’t.

  • Jeffree

    @Todd: You (are) wrong. Allowing peaceful demonstrations is a requirement of democracy, and of the European organizations which Russia belongs to. Human Rights depend on the ability of citizens to protest peacefully.

    Plus, the Moscow mayor gave a permit to the counter-protesters but not to the Pride group. There’s no way to make that seem acceptable.

  • Chris

    The leader of Russia’s Orthodox Union, Leonid Simonovich, said people should not be allowed to hold a gay pride parade. He said God once burned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, and if something like homosexuality was condoned in Russia, God would burn down Moscow as well. He referred to the Russian capital as a “holy” city.

    Given the depth of historical distortion, it is worth quoting from the 1923 pamphlet, “The Sexual Revolution in Russia,” written by Dr. Grigorii Batkis, director of the Moscow Institute of Social Hygiene: “Concerning homosexuality, sodomy, and various other forms of sexual gratification, which are set down in European legislation as offenses against public morality–Soviet legislation treats these exactly the same as so-called ‘natural’ intercourse. All forms of sexual intercourse are private matters. Legal since 1993 – Previously legal from 1917 to 1930.

    Leonid Simonovich and Ratko Mladic must be cut from the same cloth!

    Sergey Sobyanin, the current Mayor “COWARD” clear and simple,
    should renounce his degree in “Jurisprudence” for it is only a piece of parchment to him. Human rights or civil liberties form a crucial part of a country’s constitution and govern the rights of the individual against the state.

  • Cam

    @Jeffree: said…

    “2) They criticize Pride organizer Alexeyev for focusing more on international press / participants rather than local groups. They claim that he paid for Choi & Thayer, and possibly IDAHO chair J-LTin to be there.

    3) Alexeyev’s whereabouts were unknown during the event.

    I can’t verify the facts behind any of that, but it does raise good questions on what’s happening in Moscow versus the rest of Russia.”

    Yes, how dare they expect to walk down the street without being attacked. Those damn gays…it’s all their fault isn’t it?

  • Jeffree

    @Cam: The glaring think about so much of the coverage, to me, was 1) that we saw reports about & from the US/Euro press/ activists, and not much about the actual Russians. 2) If St. Petersburg had an earlier peaceful pride w/ better turn out than Moscow, what does that mean? More leniant gov’t, fewer neo-nazi skinheads, better local organizations? — I don’t know.

    We complain in the US about having to dodge sign-bearing Xters during Pride, but the Moscow attendees had to worry about getting beat up, arrested, jailed & (maybe?) fined.

  • IAbuseGays

    @Jeffree: You have fucked up definition of democracy is the point that Cam is making.

    it does not matter what “point of view” you take here other than whether or not you believe in “freedom of assembly” one of the core concepts of any democracy. Right now from China to the Middle East, to you name it- there are people fighting for their basic human right.

    This is not even a gay thing. its a human thing. Either you get that or you don’t. Apparently you don’t. I continue to marvel at the level of craziness one finds online.

  • TheRealAdam

    @Jeffree: Interesting. It leads one to believe that this event in Moscow was purely a stunt to attract international attention and paint Russia in a violent way toward GLBT when it is not necessarily the case.

    These activists were ultimately holding Pride deliberately against the law, and high-profile figures like Dan (who charges a hefty sum to make his appearances, bless his heart) were hired to take part in the event to set off the media attention. How can there be outrage at the reaction when the municipal laws and procedures weren’t followed in the first place? This was more than likely about making controversy than holding a lawful Pride.

  • Jeffree

    @IAbuseGays: (18) I think you may have confused me with another commenter. Freedom of assembly is critical to democracy. That’s why Moscow’s refusal to issue a permit to Pride was so troubling, not giving one to Alexeyev’s group is a clear violation of their Constitution. Granting one to the counterprotesters was pure-play politics.

    @TheRealAdam: I think Dan Choi’s career is now being an freelance activist ! I doubt his approach to civil rights will automatically work in a country or city he didn’t seem to know that much about beforehand. Other than guarantee US media coverage for the event, I can’t see his participation did much good for the gays & lesbian Muscovites, including the small number who actually attended.

  • M.

    We Russian gays are very grateful to Dan Choi and other foreign activists!
    Don’t listen provokers who blame activists! Nikolay Alekseev is man who real do something. Other nothing. And yes, we need in international attention. This is last way to change something in Russia. Here totalitarist political mode. And homophobia, nazism and orthodox christianuty are political course of authorities. we choke here. 90% russian gays have a dream to immigrate in European Union.

  • jason

    Patriarchs are against male homosexuality, not female homosexuality. They are against male homosexuality because male sexuality, in a general sense, cannot be controlled. Thus, they fear it. Female sexuality, on the other hand, can be controlled. This is because female sexuality has nowhere near the power and promiscuity of male sexuality.

    Female sexuality is basically a passive sexuality that seeks to appease the buyer. There is a strong buyer-seller component to the interaction between those who desire female sexuality and those who offer it. The buyer (ie the patriarchal male heterosexual) controls the paradigm in the sense of effecting the transaction. It is he who decides when and where the transaction occurs. The woman merely sells and, if she refuses, the buyer will simply move on to the next seller.

    It is completely fundamental to the understanding of homophobia that you realize that much of homophobia is directed towards male homosexuality, not female homosexuality. Once you understand this, all the cards fall into place. You can then move on to the next phase of fighting homophobia.

  • M.


    Yes, I agree.

Comments are closed.