The organisers of Moscow’s Pride event, which has been banned by the city’s authorities for several years running, have started legal proceedings against Russia’s President.
They claim that Dmitriy Medvedev’s failure to answer a letter sent to him in May asking him to intervene broke a law that guarantees citizens a response within 30 days.
“Representatives of the Russian authorities talk a lot about the necessity to follow the law and at the same time they did not learn how to do it themselves,” said Pride activist Nicolas Alexeyev.
“The President quite possibly did not know anything about our letter to him though we, as applicants, are not obliged to understand how the bureaucratic procedures of Kremlin administration work.
“Our letter was addressed to the President and that is the reason why we have applied to court against the President.
“Presidential Administration officials probably again wanted to put all responsibility on the Moscow authorities, but in this case representatives of the Prefecture acted in accordance with their powers and sent the letter back to the Administration.
“Only the President has powers to allow the event in Alexandrovskiy Sad.”
The Pride event, billed as “a march for tolerance and respect for the rights and freedoms of homosexual people in Russia,” was due to take place on May 31st in Alexandrovskiy Sad, which is part of the Kremlin.
Organisers have asked Tverskoi District Court to judge the President’s “inaction” was unlawful and oblige him to reply to their letter.
“We applied to President Dmitriy Medvedev as a safeguard of the Constitution because the Moscow authorities unlawfully denied us the realisation of our constitutional right to freedom of assembly enshrined in Article 31 of the Constitution,” said Mr Alexeyev.
“It’s a pity that the President, even though he proclaimed that he would fight for human rights, did not interfere and put an end to the unlawful actions of Moscow officials.”
A group of 30 gay activists managed to stage short protests in front of Moscow City Hall and a statue of Tchaikovsky on June 1st 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.
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.”
Last week Tverskoi District Court of Moscow held that the ban on one of those Pride marches was lawful.
Organisers plan to appeal the decision in Moscow City Court and then at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.