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Gay Rights Violence Erupts in Moscow


A9milorthodoxchristiansReligious leaders who last February predicted violence if activists in Moscow went ahead with a planned gay rights march saw their forecasts become reality over the weekend. Russian gay rights activists, attempting to hold the country's first gay rights march on Saturday as the culmination of a two-day conference called Moscow Pride '06, were met by Russian nationalists and ultra-orthodox Christians when they arrived at their gathering place, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

According to the St. Petersburg Times, "As the activists laid their flowers at the gate, protesters stomped on them and threw eggs and tomatoes at the activists. And as the protesters’ chants — 'Death to fags!' and 'Fags out of Russia!' — grew louder, and as the tenor of the confrontation grew uglier, OMON riot police formed a chain to pry the crowd away from the gate."

Some of the activists began to move toward the march's planned second stop, a monument to Prince Yury Dolgoruky. There they were met by ultranationalists including Alexander Belov, head of the Movement Against Illegal Immigrants, Konstantin Krylov, head of the Russian Public Movement, and State Duma Deputy Nikolai Kuryanovich, of the ultranationalist Liberal Democratic Party.

Kuryanovich was leading the crowd in chants urging that gays and lesbians be sent to Kolyma, a Soviet-era labor camp. Many of the nationalists covered their faces with coats and masks so not to be identified.

Caught in the melee was Gay German MP, Volker Beck (above), who was giving a television interview when a group of nationalist youths attacked him, reportedly hitting him in the face with a brick while the cameras rolled. He later told German television the object was not a brick: "I was attacked. It was a stone and a fist. It shows we are not safe in this country. The security forces did not protect us but instead prevented us from retreating. We were left without any protection."

The attack on Beck, the leader of Germany's Green party has provoked much debate in his home country. Some are blaming Beck for putting himself in danger, while others say it is absolutely wrong to blame the victim and Russia's government must accept fault for what happened. Said Jürgen Rüttgers, the conservative premier of the state of North-Rhine Westphalia: "[What happened in Moscow] 'isn't worthy of a democracy.'"

A1nikolaialekseyev A2evgeniyadebryanskaya

Russian police reportedly dragged the march organizer Nikolai Alexeyev (above left) from the gates of the monument before detaining him, and also detained lesbian rights activist Evgeniya Debryanskaya (above right). Debryanskaya was attempting to give a speech before protestors soaked her with water. Philippe Lasnier, an aide to the mayor of Paris, was also held briefly. Alexeyev held a press conference just before the march began, where he told reporters, "We are conducting a peaceful action. We want to show that we have the same rights as other citizens."


Russian Orthodox Christians held crosses and yelled into bullhorns: "Death to pederasts!"


Police lined up and detained Russian nationalists, who accused them of siding with activists.

A7activistarrest A6nationalist

An activist and a young Russian nationalist.


Oscar Wilde's grandson Merlin Holland, who was giving a lecture at the conference, was moved to safety by police. Holland, a heterosexual, has been vocal about gay rights, and last February a sent a letter to Russian president Vladimir Putin after an anti-gay television program aired on Russian TV. Said Holland at the time: "Homosexuals are not terrorists; they are not murderers; they are not fanatics who take hostages to achieve their goals. They are simply human beings who are asking that their rights to normal lives be recognised. It is nothing of which to be ashamed; it is not decadent and depraved; it is a part of human nature and has been since the dawn of civilization...My grandfather was imprisoned in 1895 simply for being a homosexual and our family was almost destroyed as a result."

Nationalist2 Activist2

For fear that many others might be hurt, the march was not announced on activist websites or via mail. And despite the violence, organizer Alexeyev called the event a success: "A hundred people were not afraid to go out and protest homophobia and fascism." He says the rally will be an annual event.

Gay March Marred by Violent Protestors [st petersburg times]
Police, Antigay Protesters Break Up Gay Rally [radio free europe]
Moscow Gay Activists Arrested [bgay]

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  1. Now those are people to be proud of.

    I have my battles but as a young twenty-something, I've not dealt with that kind of intolerance (yet).

    Hope your weekend was restful and enjoyable, Andy.

    Posted by: Rob (lrdarystar) | May 30, 2006 9:23:57 AM

  2. Andy,
    Excellent report. After posting several reports as news was coming out from Moscow on Saturday, today I directed to my readers to read yours today. It is compelling. Good job as always.

    I represent several gay Russians seeking asylum in the United States and I have had a difficult time proving to judges here how dangerous the climate is for gays in Russia. This reporting educates us all, and hopefully reminds us not to take our freedoms for granted.
    Lavi Soloway

    Posted by: Lavi Soloway | May 30, 2006 9:27:42 AM

  3. No pics of hot guys so no one will likely read this...too bad.

    Posted by: Becks07 | May 30, 2006 9:58:46 AM

  4. Thank you for this jarring report, Andy. Could we find 100 American gays to risk life and limb for our rights? I, sadly, doubt it.

    Posted by: Leland | May 30, 2006 11:07:46 AM

  5. It seems to me that the international fight for the rights of homosexuals would and should be the focus of the gay rights movement in the US and other Western nations where we have achieved an unprecedented level of acceptance. For me, the fight for "marriage" isn't nearly as important as the right to simply march down the street. Sure, my full rights as a citizen of the US need to be realized, but how can I or why should I fight for marriage when my gay brother and sisters can't even stand up and be seen in Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, etc.... Racism, Nationalism, Homophobia, Xenophobia...all of these "phobias" are on the rise throughout Europe...... We homosexuals, and those who aren't but who support our full rights, truly need to put an international and sustained spotlight on the places in the world where our lives are considered subhuman and cheap.

    As we mobilized the world to fight AIDS, as Black Americans ignited global liberation struggles with their fight for civil rights, we must once again stand up for the most basic rights of homosexuals internationally.

    Posted by: Stuart | May 30, 2006 11:12:44 AM

  6. Stuart has a point. No Stoly at bars. Avoid or boycott Polish products. We have to learn to channel our power.

    Posted by: Brian | May 30, 2006 11:52:27 AM

  7. Beck507, I think we're just sort of left "speechless" by the news and photographs from Russia. The photographs of the Russian Orthodox priests calling for the murder of gay people was especially disgusting and frightening. From Jamaica to Iran to Poland and Russia, we're still in danger for being gay, aren't we?

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | May 30, 2006 11:56:27 AM

  8. The Russian Orthodoxy, like most of the churches in Eastern Europe are seeing their ranks grow smaller and smaller as people become wise of their fear-mongering. Unfortunately, because people suffer from being extremely uneducated and poor these guys still have a grip on some peoples' ears. The Russian government is also complacent in keeping the populace under their control.

    PS. This is a wake-up call for what the American Taliban is trying to do to this country.

    PPS. I read a really interesting account of a visit to one of the mega-churches in Texas. It's a definite must read called "Six Flags Over Jesus":

    Posted by: Tread | May 30, 2006 12:12:28 PM

  9. Now THAT'S a gay pride march worth supporting. The picture showing a "russian nationalist" (whatever that means) says a thousand words.

    By the way, is that "russian nationalist" a man or a woman? I think she's female, but it's hard to say. Apparently russian nationalism is against homos, but loves androgyny.

    Posted by: Brian | May 30, 2006 1:02:35 PM

  10. The violence in Moscow is a rallying and wake-up call. Much achieved. Much left to achieve.
    Support IDAHO.

    Posted by: Peter Rivendell | May 30, 2006 1:25:06 PM

  11. It need not be a fight for marriage in the United States OR a fight for freedom of assembly in other countries. It should be BOTH! But we don't have even civil union rights in most places in the US because the vast majority of out American gays are content to feed off the freedoms few of them contributed to attaining. Studies show we spend billions on vacations, cars, homes, clothes, circuit events, etc., yet the combined budgets of all national gay groups doesn't come close the annual budget of Focus on the Family alone. Certainly there are some substantive reasons for this along with the selfishness. What have they done for us lately, except ask for more money. Nationally, we have fewer rights than we did five years ago, yet most of them are running the same bankrupt game plan that hasn't worked for years, and set no example of personal sacrifice or urgency. Can anyone imagine HRC's Joe Solomonese or GLAAD's Neil Giuliano even risking peaceful arrest—as a group of 20-something "amateurs" from Soulforce recently did—let alone physical danger as those marchers in Moscow? This just in from "Bush Preparing New Push For Anti-Gay Amendment. President Bush reportedly will hold a Rose Garden press conference on June 5 to press Congress to enact the so-called Federal Marriage Amendment that would ban same-sex marriage." It doesn't matter whether or not each of us wants to get married, anymore than men should ignore discrimination against women, or White against Blacks. And the reason he gets called a fascist so often is because he KNOWS there's really no chance of it passing. He's simply ONCE AGAIN demonizing us to rouse the rabble to try to slow down his ever more falling approval rating and damage to the GOP at the 2006 polls. Tonight's PBS special on AIDS may or may not mention that he seems to be keeping his promise to spend more money on fighting the AIDS epidemic OVERSEAS. Will it also acknowledge that, there, most cases involve nongays, whereas in the US, where so many infected ARE gay, his administration has flatlined Ryan White Care funds for years and continues to push to reroute up to a quarter of those inflation-reduced monies to RURAL areas where, proportionately they are the least needed? WHERE IS OUR ANGER?

    Posted by: Leland | May 30, 2006 2:48:29 PM

  12. All i have to say is thank god i live in Canada.

    I hope other countries can come around and civilize themselves.

    Posted by: Hasan | May 30, 2006 4:04:00 PM

  13. The Blade has a minute-by-minute report by a participant that makes the pictures of the bloodied Volker Beck and the Black Shirts even more chilling. "...There were three waves. First there were the Boys, the most numerous, mostly young (though some ranged into their late thirties), black-clad, short-haired though usually not shaven, thuggish and enraged. They were the shock troops. They were followed by the Priests. These, fatter, older, carried crosses or icons.They had beards, often, leather jackets trimmed to look like orthodox cassocks, sometimes black T-shirts with crosses bent fascist-style as if ready to administer a black mass. They chanted. Chanted. Finally, in the rear, there were the grandmothers. Old babushkas, kerchiefed, also carrying icons. They turned their backs on the mayhem the leaders were causing, faced the curious or outraged crowd, vented their tearful misery at the spectacle of their [gaybashing] grandsons being arrested behind them, sang hymns, presented a pathetic face of suffering...The little band of people trying to present their roses were suddenly surrounded.... The crush was paralyzing--I could barely breathe. The extremists were delivering body blows to people around me right and left. Volker was hit in the right eye with a rock. A punch in the same eye from the bent-nosed thug followed. He fell to the ground...Flecks of blood on sidewalk cement cracked by decades of spring thaws."

    Posted by: Leland | May 30, 2006 7:08:16 PM

  14. Andy!! Was wondering what'd become of you, and now I know. Don't know how you did it but you're even more handsome than you were a few years back. Keep up the excellent writing, my friend! K

    Posted by: Kay | May 30, 2006 7:34:48 PM

  15. Russia had never known true democracy. This violence towards innocent people, shows that Russia is still a long way from democracy.

    Posted by: Bazza | May 30, 2006 9:00:36 PM

  16. Is it me, or do those Russian priests not look like homeless bindlestiffs dressed up from Central Wardrobe? Jesus is having a bad hair day in Russia, honey. Mmmm-hmmm, I KNOW thassright.

    Posted by: Becks07 | May 31, 2006 2:35:56 AM

  17. im gonna stick the crosses of the ortodox christians in their asses

    Posted by: isskusstvennyi lyubov | Jun 4, 2007 8:07:45 PM

  18. Beat those filthy fags down!

    Posted by: greg randles | Feb 19, 2008 3:23:10 PM

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