Police just detained dozens of LGBT activists in Russia
Police have detained around 30 LGBT activists in St Petersburg.
A total of about 60 campaigners assembled in Palace Square after their request for a Pride parade was turned down by local authorities.
The incident appears to confirm fears voiced by LGBT people in Russia during this summer’s World Cup that the relaxed policing towards the community would end after the competition, which finished on July 15.
Hate crimes against LGBT people have doubled since Russia created a law in 2013 which prohibits “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships” towards minors.
The legislation has been used to justify a broad range of punitive actions against LGBT people.
Police moved on any of today’s (August 4) St Petersburg protesters who held rainbow flags or placards.
They were forced onto a police bus, but there were no clashes between officers and activists, according to Reuters.
Aleksei Nazarov, who helped to organise the rally, told AFP that “in total, 30 people were arrested,” adding that he himself had been held in a police vehicle with one other protester.
“Everyone else has been taken to a police station,” he explained.
Despite the increase in hate crimes in Russia – including the state-led gay purge in Chechnya – authorities have consistently moved to deny any issue with LGBT people.
In June, Alexander Yakovenko, the Russian Ambassador to the UK, denied the persecution of LGBT people in Chechnya – with part of his explanation relying on the face that President Vladimir Putin has met Sir Elton John.
He reportedly said he could not be sure that gay people existed in Chechnya, that Russia is a safe place for LGBT people and that Elton John had met President Putin – so homophobia did not exist in Russia.
He added that if LGBT people didn’t like living in Russia they could move to a different country where there are more LGBT people, which was reminiscent of Chechnya leader Ramzan Kadyrov’s comments last July, when he said: “We don’t have any gays. If there are any, take them to Canada.”
He added: “Take them far from us so we don’t have them at home. To purify our blood, if there are any here, take them.
“They are devils. They are for sale. They are not people.”
A couple of months before those remarks, Kadyrov claimed that his region had “never had” gay men in it, just “fake” Chechens.
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