Organisers of a banned Pride event today received a decision of Russia’s Supreme Court on the appeal their appeal against a lower court.

Senior judges sided with the arguments of Tverskoi district court of Moscow that the march ban was lawful.

The case was considered in the first instance on 26 May 2006, one day before the scheduled date of the Pride parade.

Later Moscow City court dismissed three appeals against the decision of Tverskoi district court.

On 4 April 2007 organisers of Moscow Pride appealed to the highest court in Russia – Supreme Court.

Supreme Court decision reads that the lower courts came to the right conclusion concerning the lawfulness of the actions of state official, who banned the march.

In the view of the highest court, the decision was taken on the basis of Russian Constitution, Law on Meetings, Marches, Demonstrations and Picketings as well as the European Convention on Human Rights ratified by the Russian Federation on 30 March 1998.

The Supreme Court said: “according to the mentioned legal acts, the executive body is responsible for the protection of the participants of the public event as well as expected public reaction against the march participants.

“In case of threat for the security of the public event participants, public disturbances when it is impossible to provide security, the respective executive body is entitled to deny the conduct of the public event in the chosen place.”

Supreme Court said that Moscow Government took its decision in the light of the fact that it was unable to provide the security of the march participants.

In January this year the organisers of Moscow Pride sent an official complaint against Russian Federation to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg saying that the ban of the march contradicts a number of articles of the European Convention.

They asked 20,000 euros in compensation.

In early May the European Court gave a decision on the similar ban of gay pride march in Poland’s capital Warsaw in 2005.

The ban was unanimously found to be in breach of the European Convention.

Moscow Gay Pride organiser Nicolas Alexeyev said:

“We were quite surprised by this decision of the highest court authority in Russia because the level of judicial argumentation in this decision is on a very low level. We haven’t seen any references to the articles of Russian legislation which allow the ban of our event.”

Mr Alexeyev said that gay activists are planning to use the last legal resort that we have in this country by sending an appeal to the head of Russia’s Supreme Court, who has the power to initiate new proceedings.

Organisers of Moscow Pride commented:

“Now it is almost clear that the final decision in this lengthy case will be given by the European Court in Strasbourg. In the light of the recent Warsaw decision we are confident to win.

“We used all possible attempts to resolve this case in Russia and always considered Strasbourg court as the last resort but Russian authorities did not want to finalise this case in Russia”.

Mr Alexeyev hopes that the European Court decision will be delivered before the date of the third gay pride march scheduled for 31 May 2008.