The organisers of Moscow Pride have invited the Mayors of London, Paris and Berlin to attend this year.
Last year’s event was banned and gay protesters, including Peter Tatchell and Right Said Fred singer Richard Fairbrass, were physically attacked by a homophobic mob.
In a letter to the three Mayors Nicolas Baev and Nicolas Alexeyev said:
“Knowing and respecting you as prominent supporters of civil rights for LGBT people, we would like to invite you to take part in the human rights conference and manifestation for LGBT rights and against homophobia which will take place in Moscow on May 30th and 31st 2008.”
In an interview with PinkNews.co.uk last year, London Mayor Ken Livingstone was asked if he will be attending Moscow Pride:
“As long as it doesn’t clash with my election, he replied.
“When is it?”
“There may be a small problem, I’ve got to fight off the hordes of reactionaries and get re-elected. But listen, I’d be happy too.”
Londoners go to the polls to elect a Mayor on May 1st.
Mr Livingstone, standing again as the Labour candidate, faces Tory Boris Johnson, Lib Dem Brian Paddick and Green candidate Sian Berry.
For a full list of candidates for Mayor of London click here. Nominations close on 28th March.
In their letter to Mayors Bertrand Delanoë of Paris and Klaus Wowereit of Berlin, who are both gay, and Mr Livingstone, the Moscow Pride organisers said:
“You always support the fundamental right of homosexual people to openly manifest and to publicly express themselves.
“All of you also regularly take part in Gay Pride parades in your own cities.
“Unfortunately, Russian LGBT people have no such an opportunity to manifest and openly protest against homophobia and in support of their civil rights.
“Their constitutional right to freedom of assembly is constantly violated by Moscow city authorities.
“Taking into account the bans of the public Pride events in the Russian capital in 2006 and 2007, we are not sure that Mosow Mayor Luzhkov will permit Gay Pride manifestation this year.
“We appeal for your help and your sincere support for the third Moscow Pride which will celebrate 15th anniversary since decriminalisation of homosexual relations in Russia.
“For the third year in a row, Moscow Pride will be attended by several European politicians.
“Please take part in our conference and rally.
“This could principally change the situation in Moscow.
“This would give us a real chance that our civil rights will be respected by Moscow administration and that violence will be avoided.”
In February 2007 at a meeting of the Mayors of London, Moscow, Paris and Berlin, Nicolas Alexeyev branded Mr Livingstone a hypocrite over his behaviour at the press conference.
Mr Alexeyev, who is an acreditted journalist, claimed that Ken Livingstone ignored his repeated attempts to ask a question of Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov.
He also said 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.”