Main | Saturday, May 16, 2009

Police Break Up Moscow Pride, Peter Tatchell Among Arrested

In an embarrassment for Eurovision organizers, Moscow police are cracking down hard on today's gay pride parade.
Between 20 and 40 activists have been arrested at Slavic Pride in Moscow by anti-riot police, early reports indicate. According to a statement released by Pride organiser Nikolai Alekseev, violence was used to break up the peaceful march, which had been banned by Moscow authorities. It was held to coincide with the Eurovision final which will be hosted by the city tonight. Attempts to hold a Pride march in previous years have been met with violence. Among those arrested were British gay rights activist Peter Tatchell, and Chicago campaigner Andy Thayer. It is not yet clear how many campaigners braved threats of extremist violence to join the parade. Nikolai Alekseev was allegedly held down by five armed riot officers and arrested. In a statement, Alekseev called on artists due to perform at tonight's Eurovision final to boycott the event to "send a message that Russia's state oppression of human rights is not acceptable."
UPDATE: Peter Tatchell has twittered that he has been released, but that he's worried about Moscow Pride organizer Nikolai Alekseev, who is missing. Go to UK Gay News for a live blog from Moscow. Pet Shop Boys are also twittering updates. Below, police break up another protest.

UPDATE II: YouTube appears to be down at the moment.

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