Three prominent Russian gay rights activists were attacked at a non-violent protest on Saturday.

Igor Petrov, the executive director of the Russian LGBT Organisation Network and the co-organiser of the Day of Silence in St Petersburg and the press secretary of the International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival Side by Side Ignat Fialkovskiy were among those attacked.

The homophobic assailants were dressed as rappers, according to Interfax. They fled as police approached.

The International Day of Silence is an annual action of non-violent protest that started in the US in 1996 and in Europe in 2007.

It is dedicated to silencing discrimination, emotional harassment, violence, hate crimes, and intolerance based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

In St Petersburg, the Day of Silence was held in a city park and 25 people took part.

Their mouths taped shut, they took turns to put on a banner entitled “I am silent to be heard” and hand out flyers to passers-by.

After the completion of the event, the rally participants walked to a metro station escorted by a Russian police vehicle.

Other activists took part in “flash mob” events in the cities of Novokuznetsk and Yaroslavl.

The Novokuznetsk event was attended by 20 people who responded to an invite sent through social networks. The flash mob participants were attacked by a group of skinheads and one young man was injured.

The organiser from Yaroslavl reported that nine people took part.

“Despite the fact that the actual participants of the events held in the three cities were not very numerous, we consider the Day of Silence in Russia a success,” said Valery Silantiev, organiser of the Day of Silence in Russia.

“We were able to achieve the most important thing – the word about the problem of emotional harassment and violence, discrimination and intolerance based on sexual orientation and gender identity reached many people, while the attacks on the participants of the event in St. Petersburg and Novokuznetsk confirmed the relevance of the problem.

“The organisers of the Day of Silence in Russia would like to thank all the event participants, as well as those who provided informational support, and those who believe that positive changes in Russia are possible.”