A group of 30 gay activists managed to stage short protests in front of Moscow City Hall and a statue of Tchaikovsky yesterday without being arrested.

There followed a farcical game of cat and mouse as police surrounded an apartment where four activists were eventually arrested after hours of siege.

They were held overnight and charged with taking part in an unauthorised demonstration and failing to obey police orders.

The short demonstrations were planned in order to take the authorities by surprise.

The Mayor of Moscow has called gay rights activists “Satanic” and banned Pride in 2006 and 2007.

During the “siege” at the apartment the police eventually broke down the door, after a six hour stand off.

Foreign journalists were in contact with the activists in the apartment, and at one point Russian TV conducted an interview through the locked door.

Last week it was revealed that the President of Russia, Dmitriy Medvedev, phoned the Prefecture of the Central Administrative area of Moscow and told him to authorise the gay demonstration.

Pride organisers had applied for permission to hold five marches a day, every day of May.

All were rejected by Moscow municipal authorities on the grounds they would “endanger public order and cause negative reaction of the majority of the population.”