Peter Tatchell said yesterday that the mayor of Moscow, Yury Luzhkov, was a “criminal” because of his placing a ban on Moscow Pride for the past five years.

Mr Tatchell, head of Britain’s leading LGBT and human rights campaign group, Outrage! was speaking at a busy press conference at Moscow’s Holiday Inn yesterday when he said: “[Luzhkov] should be put on trial for violating the Russian constitution. The real criminals are not the organisers of Moscow Pride, but the Mayor of Moscow and the judges who uphold this illegal ban.” He added: “We know victory and freedom will come. The European Court will overturn this ban very soon.”

Mr Tatchell also called on President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to publicly condem and lift the ban. He also said that Russia was a great nation with a proud LGBT history: “Many important figures in Russian history have been gay or bisexual, including Sergei Eisenstein, Peter Tchaikovsky, Rudolph Nureyev, Sergei Dagialev and Nikolai Gogol. Their contribution to Russain history deserves the be acknowledged and celebrated.”

German MP Volker Beck said: “We are here to support this right to freedom of assembly and I can understand the anger of Nikolai Alekseev and the activists of the organisation GayRussia that the support of the international community is weak.”

He added: “I hope that next year we will all be able to attend the fist legal gay pride here in Moscow.”

Mr Alekseev, the main organiser of Moscow Pride, said that the European Union’s claims that it was holding human rights discussions in Russia meant nothing when he belived that “the EU sold human rights against economical interest.

“We almost organised an event with the Danish Embassy which was at the last minute cancelled, following a meeting of the EU diplomats based in Moscow.”

Mr Alekseev added that the European Commission was very vocal about how it planned to give money to various Russian LGBT funds and organisations, but that it was not financial support they craved: “We do not need to get paid to fight for our rights. We do not intend to be employees of the European Commission.
We simply want political support.”