Gay rights activist Peter Tatchell visciously punched in the face, kicked then arrested. Homophobic assailant walks free.
Richard Fairbrass (Bi-Sexual) punched in the face.
30 members of European Parliament also arrested.
police used violence to break up a gay rights demonstration in Moscow
yesterday and arrested several European parliamentarians in what critics
say is the latest violation of human rights in Russia.
A group of
gay rights activists came under attack from neo-Nazi thugs when they
tried to present a petition asking Moscow's mayor, Yuri Luzhkov, to lift
a ban on a Gay Pride parade. He has previously dubbed gay rallies
"satanic". Witnesses said riot police watched as far-right skinheads
chanting "death to homosexuals" beat up several activists.
police failed to arrest the skinheads but detained several of the
Europeans - including the German MP Volker Beck, a member of the Green
party, and the radical Italian MEP Marco Capatto. Riot police threw Mr
Capatto into a police van. "Why don't you protect us?" he shouted.
was absolutely shocking," the gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell told
the Guardian yesterday. "The police stood there while people knocked me
to the ground and kicked me. Four or five neo-Nazis attacked me. The
police watched. At a certain point the police then arrested me and let
my neo-Nazi attackers walk free."
Religious orthodox protesters
and skinheads hurled eggs and stones - injuring Mr Tatchell in the eye.
They also attacked Richard Fairbrass, the gay singer from the pop group
Right Said Fred.
"When we were in the police van the police
taunted us," Mr Tatchell said after his release. "They said, 'Are you a
member of the sexual minority?' We said yes. They said, 'We are going to
have some fun with you at the police station.' What happened here shows
the flawed and failed nature of Russia's transition to democracy. There
is no right to protest in Moscow."
The arrest of European
parliamentarians is likely to further depress relations between the EU
and Russia - which are at a lowpoint after an acrimonious summit this
month in the Russian city of Samara. The chairwoman of Germany's Green
party, Claudia Roth, yesterday called on the chancellor, Angela Merkel,
to raise the issue of rights with President Vladimir Putin at next
month's G8 summit.
As a member of the Council of Europe and
signatory to the European convention on human rights, Russia is obliged
to allow demonstrations. "It has been shown once again today that human
rights are systematically abused in Putin's Russia," Ms Roth said.
activists had tried to deliver a petition signed by 50 MEPs calling on
Moscow's mayor to respect freedom of assembly, but 30 of them were
arrested and they did not make it to his city hall office. Mr Beck was
later released. Three Russian gay rights campaigners were kept in
custody and charged with disobeying police.
Neo-Nazi thugs and an
orthodox priest attacked the activists when they were freed several
hours after their arrest, witnesses said. "This is terrible but I am not
scared," a Russian named Alexey said, blood streaming from his face.
"This is a pretty scary place, a pretty scary country if you are gay.
But we won't give up until they allow us our rights."
decriminalised homosexuality in 1993, but the gay community is still
widely reviled. Last year Mr Luzhkov refused to allow a Gay Pride rally
to take place.
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