Current Affairs

Pride organiser will not be prosecuted for flower protest

Tony Grew April 13, 2007
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One of the leaders of the Moscow Pride movement has been told he will not now be prosecuted for his actions at the banned event last year.

Nicolas Alexeyev was arrested on 27th May 2006 after a group of activists attempted to lay flowers at The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a war memorial, equating the struggle for gay rights with fighting fascism.

In May 2006 the city’s mayor, Yuri Luzhkov, refused to issue a permit for the Pride march.

Gay activists pressed on with Moscow Pride despite the ban, police arrests, and violence from neo-fascists, right-wing nationalists and Orthodox Christian fundamentalists.

Over 120 people including a German MP were arrested during the chaotic scenes at Moscow Pride as gay campaigners from all over the world converged in the Russian capital.

They were met by 1000 riot police aiming to stop demonstrations in Red Square.

Mr Alexeyev said of today’s decision:

“The police could not find any evidence that I breached Russian legislation.

“That is why they had nothing else to do than to close all proceedings against me without official accusations or administrative sanctions.”

Mayor Yuri Luzhkov said that he will never allow a gay parade to take place in Moscow, and called gay people “satanic.”

Mr Alexeyev said that the May 27th 2007 event will definitely be going ahead, and that an application for a parade will be made in accordance with Russian law.

Moscow Pride 2007 marks the day in 1993 when homosexuality was decriminalised in Russia.

In March the mayors of London, Paris, Berlin and Moscow held their annual meeting.

Yuri Luzhkov was asked several questions at a press conference about his decision to ban Moscow Pride last year and his vow not to allow the event to take place this year.

Mr Alexeyev exclusively told last week that after the press conference, he was pushed and threatened by Mr Luzhkov’s press officer when he attempted to fly a Moscow Pride banner in the press room.

Mr Luzhkov was giving an interview to the Russian TV media at the time, but other Russian crews captured the incident on camera.

“I was about two or three metres behind Luzhkov, and then in a very rude and violent way his press officer approached me, pushed me away and told me to take down my flag. I said ‘you are not here to administer this press conference,” Mr Alexeyev said.

“Then he took the flag from me violently. Then security came and they pushed him from me and basically I was able to continue to stay as I was with the flag.”

City Hall staff quickly separated the two men.

A spokeswoman for the Metropolitan police said:

“Police are investigating an allegation of assault on the 28th February in SE1. There have been no arrests and enquiries continue.”

Mr Alexeyev said he intends to pursue the matter.

“If in Russia people of such high standing get away in such incidents, in Britain there is a slightly different perception of law abiding. Next time staff of Moscow Mayor will think many times before to breach the law,” he told

“Before Mr. Tsoi used homophobic statements and now he is underpinning them with actions in front of all the media, which means he feels more and more untouchable.”

The Moscow mayor is facing a lawsuit from Mr Alexeyev for calling gay people “satanic.”

Mr Luzhkov’s decision to ban last year’s Pride march is to be challenged before the European Court of Human Rights later this year, and his pledge to ban this year’s march is being challenged in the Russian courts.

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