Nicolas Alexeyev has blasted the Mayor of London, calling him a hypocrite over his behaviour at the press conference for the meeting of four European mayors in the city this afternoon.
Mr Alexeyev, who is an acreditted journalist, claims that Ken Livingstone ignored his repeated attempts to ask a question of Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov.
He also says that after the conference he was pushed and threatened by Mr Luzhkov’s press officer when he attempted to fly a Moscow Pride banner.
Mr Alexeyev told PinkNews.co.uk:
“The Livingstone position is real hypocrisy.
“I am completely outraged by his behaviour. He knew very well that I was planning to come to the press conference and did everything he could to stop me from asking a question.
“He was moderating the event, I was sitting in the front row. He looked at me many times.”
A spokesperson in the Mayor’s Office said: “The Mayor both raised the issue of the ban on the Gay Pride march both in the official meeting with the Mayors – as did the Mayor of Paris and of Berlin – and at the press conference.
“His statement released to the press could not have been clearer or more unequivocal.
“The Mayor of Moscow was left in no doubt as to the views of the Mayors of London, Paris and Berlin strongly in opposition to his stand and this type of straightforward statement aids the struggle for gay and lesbian rights in Russia and throughout Eastern Eurupe.
“There were 60 journalists at the press conference and several of them raised the issue of the gay pride demonstration in Moscow – none of the Mayors were informed Mr Alekseev was at the press conference and the issue is the raising of this question not of individual publicity.
“The statements of Mr Alekseev have absolutely no basis in fact and he weakens the struggle for gay and lesbian rights in Russia and all other East European countries by this type of accussation against Mayors very strongly and clearly supporting such rights.”
Mr Alexeyev slammed the mayor for releasing a press statement criticising the Moscow Mayor and others who have banned gay rights marches, then saying nothing about it to Mr Luzhkov’s face in front of the press.
“It is very easy to make statements from his office about supporting gay rights.
“It is not so easy to be brave enough to tackle the Moscow Mayor about his attitudes.”
In May 2006 the first Pride march in the city was beset by violence and police intimidation after Mayor Luzhkov refused to grant a permit.
In January he said that he will never allow a gay parade to take place in Moscow, and called gay people ‘satanic.’
The 2007 event will definitely be going ahead, said Mr Alexeyev, and an application for a parade has been made in accordance with Russian law.
“Gay Pride is in two months – he had the chance to talk about it,” Mr Alexeyev said of Mr Livingstone.
He praised the openly gay Mayor of Paris, who raised the issue at the press conference.
“It was only he who strictly followed his position condemning Luzhkov’s position – he spoke several times about how outraged he was at the Moscow Mayor.”
Mr Alexeyev says that after the press conference, he attempted to unfurl his Moscow Pride flag in the press room as Mr Luzhkov was giving an interview to the Russian TV media.
“I was about two or three metres behind him and then in a very rude and violent way his press officer approached me, pushed me away and told me to take down my flag. I said ‘you are not here to administer this press conference.’
“Then he took the flag from me violently. Then security came and they pushed him from me and basically I was able to continue to stay as I was with the flag.”
He says that received phone calls after the altercation from someone from the Moscow delegation, again threatening that: “they will get me.”
Mr Alexeyev defended Peter Tatchell, who was accused by Mayor Livingstone of conducting an Islamophobic campaign in relation to Russia.
“The attack on Peter Tatchell is lies. Peter is one of the only people in the gay movement in the UK who is doing so many things for gay rights across the world.
“He came to Moscow last year to take part in Pride.
“Where was Livingstone? Let us see him come. We invite all the mayors to Moscow for Pride 2007.”
Mr Alexeyev was also critical of the way in which the Mayor of Moscow presents his views when he is in the West:
“We saw that the Luzhkov position changing significantly today. He did not make any reference to homosexuality being unnatural or satanic or against religion.
“He is not confident in what he is doing now and he clearly understands there will be problems.
“This time he said if the court decides there will be a parade then he will not block it.
“He is saying one thing in Russia and another thing when he is abroad I am sure when he is back in Moscow he will say he was pressured in London.”