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Moscow activists seek meeting with mayor over Slavic Pride

Jessica Geen May 14, 2009
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Gay rights campaigners have asked Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov to meet them to discuss Saturday’s planned Slavic Pride event.

The mayor, who has previously called gays “Satanic”, has vowed the city will never hold a pride march, despite Russia’s obligation to allow them under its constitution.

The parade is planned to coincide with Saturday’s Eurovision final, which the city is hosting.

Marchers have been threatened with attacks from far-right extremists and previous attempts to hold gay events have ended in violence.

British gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who is joining the march in Moscow, said: “Í appeal to mayor Yuri Luzhkov to meet with me and the Slavic Gay Pride organisers to discuss his anxieties about the gay parade. We are keen to reassure him.

“Dialogue can create understanding and facilitate the amicable solution we seek. We are ready to meet the mayor anywhere at anytime. I hope he will agree. Meeting us would be a generous, conciliatory gesture.”

Nikolai Alekseev, the organiser of Slavic Pride, said: “All we seek is the right to hold a gay parade like they have in other European cities. This is not unreasonable.

“Sadly, the Moscow authorities have so far refused to meet and [engage in] dialogue with us. We are sure that a solution can be found if the mayor and his officials meet us. We are offering him an olive branch. I hope he will reciprocate.”

Yesterday, Nikolai Dovydenko, the organiser of last week’s anti-gay picket and leader of the United Orthodox Youth, told the Guardian that gay activists could be met with violence.

He said: “We won’t allow this satanic gathering … We don’t want to hurt anybody physically. But we will not let our feelings be insulted.”

Slavic Pride organisers have said they expect up to 500 people to join the parade, despite official threats to close down any march..

In May 2006, more than 120 people were arrested after campaigners attempted to hold the capital’s first gay rights rally.

Related topics: Europe

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