immigration issues

Why Won’t Britian Let Moscow’s Homophobic Ex-Mayor Drop On By?

Ousted Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov has lots of free time on his hands ever since Russian President Dmitry Medvedev fired him last month, so what better option than ship off to London for a lovely holiday? Too bad he can’t secure a visa to visit.

Luzhkov subsmitted a visa application recently in Moscow after being refused permission to submit it to the British embassy in Vienna where he is a frequent visitor. There has been no preferential treatment for the ex-mayor, who had to fill in the same lengthy forms and submit his fingerprints like any other hopeful visitor to London.

But if he succeeds in his plans to visit relatives in London he is likely to find lawyers waiting for him. His one-time rival for the mayor’s job, businessman Alexander Lebedev, in September asked British authorities to investigate Luzhkov and his wife, Elena Baturina’s corrupt activities. Lebedev, who owns four UK newspapers, said the request for an investigation was prompted by developer Shalva Chigirinsky, who claims Baturina forced him to give her half of his shares in exchange for being able to do business in Moscow. The developer also says that he had to pay Baturina’s $12 million bills, including service charges for her private jet.

But why would Luzhkov want to leave Moscow when there’s a fun new sporting event to watch? Activist Nikolai Alexeyev, whom Luzhkov battled against to stop gay pride parades, and had arrested and detained when he tried leaving the country, is launching a defamation suit against a human rights activist.

Gay rights activist Nikolai Alexeyev has sued veteran human rights activist Lyudmila Alexeyeva for calling him a liar, Interfax reported Friday. He said in the defamation lawsuit filed in the Moscow Presnensky District Court that Alexeyeva, who heads the Moscow Helsinki Group and is not related to Alexeyev, had accused him “of lying often” in an Aug. 31 interview with Ekho Moskvy radio, the report said.

Alexeyev wants Alexeyeva to apologize and retract her remarks. Alexeyeva, 83, confirmed by telephone Friday that she had called Alexeyev a liar.

As an example, she said, Alexeyev had invited Alexei Mitrofanov, a former State Duma deputy with the Liberal Democratic Party and a gay rights supporter, against her wishes to a news conference supporting gay pride parades that she had provided the venue for several years ago. She said she had opposed Mitrofanov’s participation because he had repeatedly spoken negatively about human rights activists in the past.

C’mon, who wants to miss that?

[BSR; Moscow Times]