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September 20, 2010

Russian gay leader calls for international protests against his abduction

800px-Nikolaialekseevmoscowpride06
(Nikolai Alekseev being arrested at Moscow Pride on May 27, 2006)

Paul Canning at LGBT Asylum News writes:

First call for action after abduction of Russian LGBT leader

Russian LGBT leader Nikolai Alekseev has called for international protests against Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov.

In a Facebook posting he announces that an unauthorised protest tomorrow, 21 September, at 6pm in front of Moscow City Hall calling for Luzhkov to step down will be going ahead.

He also points out that as Luzhkov is in Austria "with his billioneer wife ... It [protests] can especially be effective in Austria!!!" Luzhkov has refused to allow any Moscow Pride public events or demonstrations by LGBT. Moscow Pride is the subject of a case before the European Court of Human Rights.

The Mayor is currently engaged in an internal Russian political battle for survival and is being investigated for money laundering. State television has run a number of stories accusing him of corruption. The Austrian newspaper Der Standard suggested on Friday that the kidnapping of Alekseev "had been staged by the security forces to support Luzhkov or to discredit the views of other analysts". Russian President Medvedev is believed to want Luzhkov removed but he is supported by Prime Minister Putin.

Alekseev was abducted last week and told RFE, "I don't think federal structures would have resorted to such means if they had wanted something from me. I think this is largely linked to Moscow authorities and the actions we have taken against them at the European Court."

In a statement published on the GayRussia.ru website - which mysteriously went down during Alekseev's abduction - organizers have said the ban on their demonstration goes against Article 31 of the Russian constitution, which guarantees freedom of assembly.

Luzhkov has called Moscow Pride "satanic" and said "we think that destructive sects and propaganda of same-sex love are inadmissible."

In January he said: "It is high time to crack down on the parade with all the power and justice of the law, instead of talking about human rights. (...) We need a social whip or something like that."

Update: Pardon me for misspelling "Russian" in the header, now corrected.

Update 2: Please contact the U.S. State Department and ask them to issue a statement of concern and to call for an investigation:

U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520
Russia desk: (202) 647-9806
http://www.state.gov/g/drl/hr/index.htm

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