This is what Russia is becoming again – or still is – as George Bush and Condi Rice sit idly by. Eastern Europe, from Moscow to Warsaw, is still struggling to understand freedom and democracy, and not doing so well it would seem, as we ignore them. Rather than rely on the reports of gay advocates present at the event, let’s read what the independent mainstream media had to say – it’s hideous.
Police detained Russian gay community leader Nikolai Alexeyev and several European lawmakers in central Moscow at the start of the demonstration by dozens of homosexual rights activists campaigning for an end to sexual discrimination.
Dozens of Russian right-wing extremists converged on the group, shouting insults like “fags,” “perverts” and “death to homosexuals,” throwing eggs and punching and kicking gay demonstrators in front of riot police who intervened much later.
The police also systematically arrested both the attackers and the assaulted. The gay rights activists were also assaulted by ultra-nationalists and Orthodox Church hardliners….
Also detained were Volker Beck, a member of Germany’s parliament; Marco Cappato, an Italian member of the European Parliament, and veteran British gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell. The politicians have since been released.
Yes, the police sat by while European members of parliament were violently attacked. The police then proceeded to arrest the members of parliament and others who were victims of the violence.
Marco Cappato, a European Parliament deputy from Italy, was kicked by one opponent as he spoke to journalists. Cappato began shouting “Where are the police? Why don’t you protect us?” and officers hauled him away as he struggled….
Thirty-one people were detained and most were later released, Moscow police spokesman Yevgeny Gildeyev said. He said two Italians were detained for jaywalking and a German was taken away by police to prevent him from being beaten….
No gay rights opponents were seen taken away by police, though Gildeyev said a man was detained after attacking a Briton, presumably referring to Tatchell.
Richard Fairbrass, a gay singer with the pop group Right Said Fred, was punched in the face and kicked by anti-gay activists while speaking to Reuters in an interview.
“We understand this is a gay event and so we came down here today,” Fairbrass said before being hit. Blood dripped from his face after the attack. Gay rights activist Peter Tatchell was knocked to the ground and kicked twice. When he got up he was punched in the face again and taken away by two riot policemen….
Volker Beck, a German Green Party politician, was hit in the face with eggs before being detained by riot police. “We didn’t do anything,” he told Reuters as he was led away.
There is also growing concern about the status of Russia’s gay civil rights leader, Nikolai Alekseev:
Alekeyev and two other organizers of the march – dubbed the “Moscow Gay Pride Three” were detained overnight Sunday awaiting a court hearing and sources close to them told UK Gay News that they feared he may be sent to prison: “We really fear that Nikolai Alekseev will be sent to prison for 15 days as the ‘figurehead’ of the Gay Pride organising team…Unofficially, we received confirmation that this is what the General Prosecutor already asked. We are not very optimistic about the result of the court hearing. We can say that all three have been provided with legal assistance.”
The sources allege: “[It is] becoming very clear that orders are being given to court and militia directly from [the] Kremlin.”
Sadly, these are countries that want to be treated as equals. They want to become a member of the civilized, developed world (the EU, NATO), yet in many ways, they are not yet civilized, they are not yet developed. They’re slipping back into the sort of violent totalitarianism that made them our mortal enemy for 70 years.
You know what to do:
Russian embassy, Washington, DC: (202) 298-5700, (202) 298-5701, (202) 298-5704, (202) 939-8907, (202) 939-8913, (202) 939-8918