LGBT activist Peter Tatchell has been permitted to leave Russia after he was arrested for a protest at the World Cup.
Tatchell was arrested in Moscow on Thursday (June 14) after staging a protest about homophobic crackdowns in Russia.
The UK-based activist was holding a placard that accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of “failing to act against Chechnya torture of gay people” when he was arrested for breaching anti-protest laws put in place for the World Cup.
The veteran campaigner was released on bail the same day, with a court appearance scheduled for June 26.
Ahead of the court date, Tatchell today confirmed that he has safely left the country.
Tatchell confirmed: “Job done. Goodbye Moscow. No problem at immigration despite my scheduled court appearance on 26 June.
“It was such a honour to support the heroic Russian LGBT+ activists of [the Russian LGBT Network] and [the Russian LGBT Sport Federation].”
Tatchell previously said he had been assured he could leave Russia.
He said: “I am required to appear in court on 26 June for violating Federal Law 54 and Presidential Decree 202, which prohibit all protests near the Kremlin and during the World Cup.
“I have written a letter to the Chief of Police of Kitay-Gorod police district, requesting that my court appearance is voided on the grounds that I am flying back to the UK on 18 June.
“I have been told I will be free to leave Russia on that date as planned. I spent one hour and 40 minutes in police custody, from the moment I was detained near the Kremlin to the moment of my release from the police station.
“Senior officers were stern but the apprehending officer very helpful, friendly and polite.
“I presume I was well treated, partly because I am a UK citizen and because a senior British Embassy consular official, Colin Wells, contacted the police.
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“I guess the Russians also did not want to be seen as being heavy-handed during the World Cup.”
The sporting event has been marred by threats of violence towards LGBT fans from the country’s homophobic ultra-nationalist factions.
The Russian government had assured FIFA that everyone would be safe at the contest – but concerns for safety led to guidance encouraging gay fans to conceal their sexuality at the contest.
The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s guidance was updated just weeks before the contest to warn fans that “public attitudes towards LGBT+ people are less tolerant than in the UK.”
The FCO directs fans to a section of the England Fans’ Guide to Russia 2018, published by the Football Supporters’ Federation, which states: “It is strongly understood and advised that you do not publicly display your sexuality.”
t urges fans not to fly rainbow flags at matches, saying: “This would contradict the aforementioned ‘propaganda law’ and Russian LGBT+ groups have questioned how safe LGBT+ fans will be who raise the Rainbow flag during matches.”
Meanwhile transgender fans are warned that the “safest option” for using the bathroom would be to go into a disabled toilet, rather than risk violence by using a male or female toilet.
The guide also warns LGBT fans that of “Chechnya, Ingushetia, Dagestan, and other Muslim regions within the North Caucasus should be avoided” entirely because of homophobic purges reported in the last year.