Nearly 20 Activists Arrested at Moscow Gay Rights Demonstrations
Lieutenant Dan Choi was among the 18 activists arrested in Moscow on Saturday, May 28, as they tried to defy a ban on Pride marches.
"LGBT Activists (led by Russian transgender citizen (male pronoun) Anna Komarova) arrested after attacks by Neo-Nazis," tweeted Choi from inside a Russian police car. "Headed to unknown Moscow station. Right ear ringing small bleeding, eight in the car including me and Andy Thayer (from the Gay Liberation Network)."
Choi identified the other Russians inside the police car from which he was tweeting arrested as Tim Magomedor, 25, Alexy Kiselev, 27, Elizaveta Nikitina, 23, Alexander Shiriaev, 24, Andzey Zayziev, 25. Louis George Tin was also taken into custody, but Choi tweeted that authorities have released him. Peter Tatchell and Russian activist Nikolai Alekseev also participated in the protests, but UKGayNews is reporting both men were not taken into custody.
British gay activist Peter Tatchell was also present at the demonstration, which only furthered widespread criticism that post-Soviet Russia has descended into a "thugocracy." He went out a detailed email of the protest, in which he describes neo-Nazis as being responsible for most of the attacks.
"Neo-Nazis made repeated attempts to bash the LGBT campaigners as they were being arrested and taken to police buses. Some of the campaigners were struck but none were hurt seriously," he wrote. "Anna Komarova, who is under arrest, reports being pressured by the police to give information about the organisation of Moscow Gay Pride. The police are threatening to detain her for 48 hours unless she gives them the information they want."
Ultra right-wing groups have proliferated in the chaos of the breakdown of order following the break-up of the old Soviet Union. Russians, beleaguered by a government controlled by plutocrats, falling wages, environmental degradation and other ills, have increasingly turned to the ancient Russian Orthodox Church or to paramilitary groups to try to find their footing.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.