ST. PETERSBURG, June 26, 2011 (Gay Russia/UK Gay News) – Yesterday saw the second attempt by LGBT activists in St. Petersburg to host an annual Gay Pride March. Last year’s attempt was banned by the city hall. Despite the ban, two dozen LGBT activists defied the ban and walked in front of the famous Hermitage Museum. The police arrested five participants last year.
The same scenario happened today as Slavic Pride was banned and organisers said they will not cancel their plans. As was announced yesterday during a press-conference, the banned Pride started at 2pm at the statue of Peter the Great in the centre of the city. 20 people showed up for the event and 14 were arrested.
This year, St. Petersburg Pride is hosting the third Slavic Gay Pride. Slavic Gay Pride is a union of Russian-Belarusian-Ukrainian Pride organisers. Previous Slavic Gay Pride in Moscow (2009) and Minsk (2010) were banned and participants were arrested.
This is a blog, from GayRussia, of the happenings yesterday in St. Petersburg and the aftermath today, with the most recent first. Times are local time in St. Petersburg (three hours ahead of UK time, eight hours ahead of New York).
SUNDAY JUNE 26
16:20: All 14 arrested have now been released. They spent 24 hours in detention. This blog is now closed. Wrap-up article is HERE.
14:50: Dmitri Musolin is released. 500 rouble fine, plus 11 July hearing on other charge. Also, Oleg Grannikov, founder of Livejournal community LGBT Grani has been released with a 500 rouble fine and second hearing on 18 July.
14.39: Chief organiser of St. Petersburg Pride and head of Equality, Yuri Gavrikov, is released. Fined 1000 rub, hearing on other charge on 11 July.
14.39: Nikolai Alekseev reports via Twitter: “I adore all who took part in Slavic Pride. Fabulous Belorusians! Amazing locals. So devoted activists.”
14.19: Nikolai Alekseev reports via Twitter: Sergei Timofeev has been released. 1000 rub fine as he was one of official organizers of the Pride. Like the others, he has to return to court on July 6.
14.08: Nikolai Alekseev reports by phone: "Alexander Sheremetyev who was beaten by the homophobe at the protest is released. His hearings are transferred to 6 July so he is not fined yet. Varvara Krasutskaya is with me out of the Court, she was also fined 500 roubles. Anna Komarova was fined 1,000 roubles on the basis that he had been arrested before in St. Petersburg.”
13.46: Nikolai Alekseev reports: “I have just been released by the court. 500 rubles fine for illegal protest and 6 July as the date of hearing on police disobedience.”
13.40: Anton Sutyagin said by phone that he is out of the Court with Varvara Krasutskaya and they are expecting a third guy to be released shortly. “It was such a night in this police cell but we did what we had to do and we will keep doing it,” said Anton, who has been regularly arrested for taking part in unsanctioned Moscow Prides in past years.
13.20: Anton Sutyagin has been released. He is out of court. Belarusian Varvara Krasutskaya is next in the court room.
13.18: Nikolai Alekseev reports from Court via Twitter: “Breaking! First court verdict. Anton Sutyagin fined 500 rub (12 euros) for illegal protest, hearing on disobedience postponed to 6 July.”
13.05: Photos from the Berlin protest yesterday have now been posted on Facebook.
13.02: Nikolai Alekseev reports from Court: “First hearing starts. Against Anton Sutyagin. He alone went inside court room. Others not allowed in.”
12.51: Nikolai Alekseev reports from inside the Court via SMS: “Police entered the court room to talk with the judge. No one else is there. You can guess the justice we might have!”
12.40: The Court hearing has not yet started the hearings.
11.56: Action Alert: Ask Hillary to speak up tomorrow for Gay Rights in Russia and against St. Petersburg Gay Pride Bashing. The Secretary of State will address an event co-hosted by the State Department and Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies (GLIFAA), on Monday, June 27 at approximately 10:25 a.m., in the Dean Acheson Auditorium at the Department of State.
11.40: We were able to get on the phone with Nikolai Alekseev while he was in Court. “We have no more information. We are filling papers,” he said.
11.30: Further report from Nikolai Alekseev: “My iPad already played such a great role in my life as an activist. All I missed is a camera to send you all the photos from the police cells.”
11.20: On Twitter, Nikolai Alekseev reports: “It was my third overnight stay in police detention. One after Moscow Pride in 2007, one after Slavic Pride in Moscow in 2009. It was an unbelievable night. I would say this should be considered as torture. Cell 4 by 2 meters with wooden benches for 10 people.
11.10: Activists have been given back their phones and they have been transferred to Court. The judge ordered a closed Court hearing. All supporters have been sent away from the Court room.
11:00: SMS message from Alexander Sheremetiev: “We are still in the cell, no info on Court hearing. It was supposed to start at 10am but it is 11am now.”
10:02: A video of yesterday’s protest in Berlin in front of the Russian Embassy has been posted on YouTube,.
10:00: The Court hearings for those detained are supposed to start now, but the phone lines are silent. We have not receive any update.
9:58: Overnight, Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner, reacted to yesterday’s suppression of Slavic Pride. “The arrest, mistreatment and detention of LGBT activists is illegal under Russia’s constitution, which guarantees the right to peaceful assembly. It is alarming that this homophobic repression is taking place in Russia’s most liberal city, St Petersburg. The Council of Europe must take disciplinary action against Russia over it’s further violation of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The Russian government must not be allowed to defy the ECHR with impunity.” Tatchell has regularly attended Pride attempts in Moscow since 2006 where he was arrested and severely beaten.
03:00: Two embedded videos of Russian TV news footage are now available online via GayBy.net (Belarus)
02:00: At the protest in Berlin yesterday evening, Volker Beck said: “Russian LGBT activists, today in St. Petersburg, and in May in Moscow are heroes that we can be proud of. The actions of the police are completely unacceptable and I expect [the German] government to explicitly address this issue in bilateral discussions with the Russian government”. Sergey Yenin, co-chair of IDAHO Belarus also took part to the protest. The demo started with an activists with the Russian LGBT Group of Germany explaining to the participants what happened today in St. Petersburg. Other speakers included representatives of trade union Verdi, LGBT group LSVD. The participants were carrying the 51 portraits of LGBT activists taken by US photographer Chad Meacham.
01:00: “It is like a torture in this cell. We cannot sleep. It is so hot. We are all wet,” says a text message received from Nikolai Alekseev in his police cell
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