Friday, July 8, 2011

Gay Pride Rally in St. Petersburg Banned, Participants Arrested: Blog Updates

Via UK Gay News.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

10:35: Nice weather over St. Petersburg today. The city is enjoying what is called white nights. During this time of the year, there is light until very late at night.

12:45: A witness reports a lot of police near the monument to Peter the Great in central St. Petersburg. Skinhead groups have not yet been seen. The action is due to start in 75 minutes from now.

13:20: Details of the action are known to GayRussia but for safety reasons, we cannot write about it... a few more minutes to wait.

13:43: Anti-Gay groups which have been allowed by the city hall to stage an anti-gay protest a week ago did not show up – yet.

13:45: A first group is celebrating Pride on a boat, waiving Rainbow flags in front of the Statue to Peter the Great which is located near the river Neva. The boat is passing and tourists are taking photos of the participants waving their flags from the boat.

14:00: A second group started to unveil banners and flags shooting slogans “No to homophobia” or “Equal Rights”. A poster carried by trans activist Anna Komarova showed “Trans Rights are Human Rights”, one carried by Nikolai Alekseev played with the rumour that St Petersburg governor is alcoholic: “Alcoholism is a disease, homosexuality is not”. An another one carried which cannot be translated said “сосуЛИ Я? Тебя волнует?”

14:02: Everyone with a banner has been arrested. A very short action but participants have been able to waive their slogans in front of a large group of photo correspondents, TV crews and journalists.

14:05: Police have arrested a homophobe and are taking him to a police van. As he is being put into the van, he is giving Nikolai Alekseev ‘the finger’ While entering the van, he is showing Nikolai Alekseev with the finger and said “If you put me with him, I will kill him”. He is finally put in the same bus but in a separate compartment.

14:14: From the police van, Nikolai Alekseev explains: “We had a Pride of two minutes before being arrested and a homophobe started to attack us.”

14:40: Anna Komarova reports that Alexey Kiselev was beaten by a police officer inside the police station.

14:47: Nikolai Alekseev reports that after he told the police he will tweet about the beating of Alexey Kiselev inside the police station, the police replied to him: “Please tweet hello from me to Dmitri Medvedev”

14:55 Alexander Sheremetev, one of the organizers of Slavic Pride was beaten by a homophobe at the protest. His attacker has also been arrested.

16:25: The police said the activists will be charged with organising an illegal action but perhaps also of resisting police order. This second charge could lead to a 15-day prison sentence.

17:55: Nikolai Alekseev reports that he is with others in one room while trans rights activist Anna Komarova is in a cell without access to mobile phone.

Alexander Sheremetiev
19:00: Alexander Sheremetiev, one of the organisers who was attacked by a homophobe during the action has been taken to hospital in an emergency under police escort.

20:20: Andy Thayer from Gay Liberation Network is asking American, and a ‘veteran’ of three Gay Prides in Moscow has just said that he is calling the Russian Embassy in Washington D.C. “Gay Pride demonstrators brutally attacked & arrested in St Petersburg, Russia – facing poss 15 days in jail. Flood Russian embassy with calls to protest: 202-338-3263,” Thayer has posted on Facebook. Thayer was among those arrested at Moscow Pride last month.

20:50: In Berlin, gay activists are wasting no time. In 10 minutes (20:00 Central European Time) a protest in front of the Russian Embassy in Berlin. Is scheduled to start. The protest is organised by Norbert Blech, Maik Diekmannshemke, and Charles Meacham who were all in Moscow last month for the Pride. Berlin staged their Gay Pride (Christopher Street Day).

23:30: Detainees managed to keep a mobile phone. They told us that they have been put in two different cells (5 in one and 9 in another). “It is suffocating in this cell and the police denied us water,” said the text message we received.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

01:00: “It is like a torture in this cell. We cannot sleep. It is so hot. We are all wet,” says a text message received from Nikolai Alekseev in his police cell.

The protest in Berlin. Protestors
carry images of those arrested.

9:58: Overnight, Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner, reacted to yesterday’s suppression of Slavic Pride. “The arrest, mistreatment and detention of LGBT activists is illegal under Russia’s constitution, which guarantees the right to peaceful assembly. It is alarming that this homophobic repression is taking place in Russia’s most liberal city, St Petersburg. The Council of Europe must take disciplinary action against Russia over it’s further violation of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The Russian government must not be allowed to defy the ECHR with impunity.” Tatchell has regularly attended Pride attempts in Moscow since 2006 where he was arrested and severely beaten.

11:00: SMS message from Alexander Sheremetiev: “We are still in the cell, no info on Court hearing. It was supposed to start at 10am but it is 11am now.”

11.20: On Twitter, Nikolai Alekseev reports: “It was my third overnight stay in police detention. One after Moscow Pride in 2007, one after Slavic Pride in Moscow in 2009. It was an unbelievable night. I would say this should be considered as torture. Cell 4 by 2 meters with wooden benches for 10 people.

12.40: The Court hearing has not yet started the hearings.

12.51: Nikolai Alekseev reports from inside the Court via SMS: “Police entered the court room to talk with the judge. No one else is there. You can guess the justice we might have!”

13.18: Nikolai Alekseev reports from Court via Twitter: “Breaking! First court verdict. Anton Sutyagin fined 500 rub (12 euros) for illegal protest, hearing on disobedience postponed to 6 July.”

14.08: Nikolai Alekseev reports by phone: "Alexander Sheremetyev who was beaten by the homophobe at the protest is released. His hearings are transferred to 6 July so he is not fined yet. Varvara Krasutskaya is with me out of the Court, she was also fined 500 roubles. Anna Komarova was fined 1,000 roubles on the basis that he had been arrested before in St. Petersburg.”

14.39: Chief organiser of St. Petersburg Pride and head of Equality, Yuri Gavrikov, is released. Fined 1000 rub, hearing on other charge on 11 July.

14.39: Nikolai Alekseev reports via Twitter: “I adore all who took part in Slavic Pride. Fabulous Belorusians! Amazing locals. So devoted activists.”

Read the rest of the entries here.

[If an item is not written by an IRMA member, it should not be construed that IRMA has taken a position on the article's content, whether in support or in opposition.]

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