From next month religiously-motivated gangs will be on the streets of Moscow, assisting police with monitoring “suspicious citizens” and other public order duties.

“Orthodox groups can put things in order in the place where they live, and through this put things in order in the whole country”, said the vice-president of external relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin.

He said that public order, “is not only police business, it should be business of all people. If people take it partly in their hands the order will be induced much faster.”

LGBTnews.ru reports that “the leader of the Moscow department “of the union of Orthodox citizens,” Cyril Frolov, stated only two days ago that the first Orthodox guard will appear on the streets on December 1.”

Gay rights marches are banned in Moscow, and the Mayor has called gay people ‘Satanic.’

Russian Orthodox leaders have been vocal in their prejudice against gay people.

In June Father Chaplin, in an interview with newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda, said that gay people who say they are happy are lying.

In January his boss, Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, said that not viewing homosexuality as a sin will lead to a variety of other sexual perversions.

In a statement issued in August 2000, he explained that globalisation would inevitably lead to the kingdom of the anti-Christ and that it was the Russian Orthodox Church’s role to defend Russian nationality and religious identity.

Vyacheslav Revin, the co-coordinator of the Movement for the Rights of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transsexuals in Russia, criticised the “peace officers” initiative.

“There is no lawful basis for such teams in Russia,” he said.

“Moreover in the law it is obviously specified who has rights for those actions which combatants wish to make.

“There are some examples when similar teams have been created, and quite successfully operated in one of the European countries in the last century.

“The teams were called Chernorubashechniki (Blackshirts), and were created in the mid-1930s in Germany.

“These teams played one of key roles in the establishment of the fascist regime and were useful for Hitler.

“If representatives of the LGBT community start to suffer from such teams it can destabilise not just the situation but also can blow up public law and order.”

LGBT activists regularly face intimidation and violence from far right groups who see the LGBT community as a ‘threat’ to Russia’s national security.

In May an Amnesty International spokesman told PinkNews.co.uk:

“Amnesty has serious concerns about the Russian government’s treatment of LGBT rights.

“We’ve had numerous homophobic attacks in Russia, some of them fatal.

“The authorities have failed to tackle discrimination because of sexual orientation.”

Homosexuality was legalised in Russia in 1993 and since 1999 it is no longer included on the list of mental illnesses.