Moscow city authorities gave permission today for the first ever gay pride parade to be held in the Russian capital.

This significant decision was greeted with delight by Nikolai Alexeyeve, Russia’s most respected gay rights activist. The city’s government will allow the march to go ahead on 28 May, although the head of Moscow’s central district has claimed to be unaware of the plans.

On the website gayrussia.eu, Mr Alexeyeve said: “The authorities must now ensure the security of the participants in line with the ruling of the European Court [of Human Rights].”

Last October, the Strasbourg Court fined Russia for banning gay pride marches in Moscow and fined the city’s authorities $41,090 in damages and for legal fees. This ruling, Mr Alexeyeve said at the time, was “a crippling blow to Russian homophobia on all accounts”.

Yury Luzkhov, the previous mayor of Moscow who was sacked last September, had been an outspoken critic of the proposals to allow gay parades, describing them as “Satanic”. The current mayor, Sergei Sobyanin, has also said he is not in favour of the idea.

Gay rights campaigners who sought to defy the ban in the past found themselves attacked not just by nationalist and religious groups, but also by members of the city’s police force.