A Moscow arbitration court ruled this week that a move to close one of the city’s prominent gay nightspots was illegal.

Dush i Telo (Body and Soul) was closed when its lease was prematurely terminated by the Russian Society for the Blind, though the move was attributed to Northern Prefect, Oleg Mitvol.

Moscow’s Gay Pride organiser, Nikolai Alexeyev, told Moscow News: “They were obliged to terminate the contract before the end date which was supposed to be in April 2010.”

Alexeyev contended that the closure, which came in November 2009 as city duma elections approached, was part of a desire on Mitvol’s part to advance his bid.

He added: “They were the victims of electoral campaigning and Mitvol’s personal publicity campaign. He is known for a lot of scandalous things which have attracted a lot of media attention.”

Mitvol, having criticised the venue, declared before the club’s closure that it was “time to stop this lawlessness”.

Alexeyev confirmed in August that Gay Pride organisers had filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights against Mitvol, after he blocked their pickets calling for his resignation.

The move to forbid their picket was, Alexeyev claims, a violation of Article 11, the guarantee of freedom of assembly.