Gay activists and Eurovision fans have been warned they may be met with violence this weekend in Moscow.
The city is preparing to host the Eurovision Song Contest final but gay rights activists have said they will be holding a Slavic Pride march, despite city officials banning such events.
Such events have been met with violence from right-wing extremists in previous years.
“We won’t allow this satanic gathering,” Nikolai Dovydenko, the organiser of last week’s anti-gay picket and leader of the United Orthodox Youth, told the Guardian. “We don’t want Moscow to become Sodom. It’s an affront to Russian society and to our spiritual peace.”
When asked if his movement was intending to hurt gay and lesbian Eurovision fans, he said: “We don’t want to hurt anybody physically. But we will not let our feelings be insulted.” The group’s leaflet mixes images from previous gay parades with photos of terrorist attacks.
“Eighty per cent of Russians are orthodox Christians,” Dovydenko said. “We don’t intend to be humiliated.”
Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov, who previously described gays as “Satanic”, has done little to quell tension, declaring that no gay prides would ever be held in the city, despite its obligations under its constitution.
Nikolai Alekseev, the organiser of the Slavic Pride rally, warned that British gays and lesbians travelling to city would not be safe from extremist violence, adding that Moscow police would not protect them.
This week, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office revised its guidance for travellers to Moscow, saying that gay visitors should be aware of possible violence and should be careful about open displays of affection.
Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell was among those who were beaten by rightwing extremists during an attempt to hold a march in 2007.
He said yesterday he would still attend the march to show solidarity with Russian campaigners, despite being beaten almost unconscious and then arrested.