Blogging LIVE from St. Petersburg's Slavic Gay Pride

This page is constantly updated today: The 14 Gay Pride participants arrested yesterday have been brought to Court by the Police. They were detained overnight

Blogging LIVE from St. Petersburg's Slavic Gay Pride

Homophobe attacking a group of Pride participants in front of the Statue to Peter the Great, June 25, 2011

Background information about the Slavic Gay Pride and St. Petersburg Gay Pride.
We are updating this page constantly. All times are St. Petersburg Time (GMT+4).

Thanks to Twitter : Follow the tweets of Nikolai Alekseev from the police station (Russian/English).

Photo Gallery of today's action is available HERE.

Today was the second attempt by LGBT activists of 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 5 participants. The same scenario happened today as the Pride was banned and organizers said they will not cancel their plan. As it was announced yesterday during a press-conference, the banned Pride started at 2pm at the statue of Peter the Great in the center 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 organizers. Previous Slavic Gay Pride in Moscow (2009) and Minsk (2010) were banned and participants were arrested.
  • Saturday 25 June 2011
10:00 - Everyone is at work, preparing the last slogans and banners which will be used for the action later at 2pm.

10:35 - Nice weather over St. Petersburg today. The city is enjoying what is called white nights. During this time of the year, there is light until very late at night.

11:15 - St. Petersburg Governor, Valentina Matvienko, is expected to get a promotion soon. Not only she was the first woman to become the head of a Region, she might soon become the Speaker of the Federation Council. Russian President Medvedev who said that he likes this idea, pointed out he "absolutely successful" job as governor. Really? A promotion for banning peaceful event in the city in contradiction with the constitution?

12:45 - A witness reports a lot of police near the monument to Peter the Great in central St. Petersburg. Skinheads groups have not yet been seen on the place. The action is due to start in 75 minutes from now.

13:15 - Participants are on their way to the banned Pride... 

13:20 - Details of the action are known to this GayRussia but for safety reasons, we cannot write about it... a few more minutes to wait.

13:43 - Anti-Gay groups which have been allowed by the city hall to stage an anti-gay protest a week ago did not show up - yet.

13:44 - Pride participants said that two dozen policemen are standing near the monument to Peter the Great. The action did not yet start.

13:45 - A first group is celebrating Pride on a boat, waiving Rainbow flags in front of the Statue to Peter the Great which is located near the river, Neva. The boat is passing and tourists are taking photos of the participants waving their flags from the boat. 

14:00 - A second group started to unveil banners and flags shooting slogans "No to homophobia" or "Equal Rights". A poster carried by trans activist Anna Komarova showed "Trans Rights are Human Rights", one carried by Nikolai Alekseev played with the rumor that St Petersburg governor is alcoholic "Alcoholism is a disease, homosexuality is not" an another one carried which cannot be translated said "сосуЛИ Я? Тебя волнует?".

14:02 - Everyone showing a banner has been arrested. A very short action but participants have been able to waive their slogans in front of a large group of photo corespondent, TV crews and journalists.

14:05 - Police is taking a homophobe who was arrested in a van. While entering the van, he is showing Nikolai Alekseev with the finger and say "If you put me with him, I will kill him". He is finally put in the same bus but in a separate compartment.

14:09 - A total of 14 LGBT activists have been arrested. They were placed in two different police van. "We are seating in the police van with Anton, Sergey and Anna while others are arrested in another bus" reports Nikolai Alekseev by phone.

14:10 - Media are taking interviews with a few homophobes who showed up to protest. Pride participants are in two different police bus, awaiting to depart for the Central Police Station.

14:14 - From the police van, Nikolai Alekseev explains "We had two minutes before to be arrested after an homophobe ran into us and started to attack us". Only a few anti-gay protesters showed up. Much less than for an anti-gay demonstration which was allowed a week ago. And also, much less than a mont ago in Moscow for the sixth banned Moscow Pride.

14:25 - Among those arrested are participants from Moscow, St. Petersburg and Minsk.

14:40 - Anna Komarova reports that Alexey Kiselev was beaten by a police officer inside the police station.

14:45 - The Russian Gay Blogger maintaining the Live Journal Community LGBT_Grani was also arrested.

14:47 - Nikolai Alekseev reports that after he told the police he will tweet about the beating of Alexey Kiselev inside the police station, the police replied to him: "Please tweet hello from me to Dmitri Medvedev"

14:50 - 3 Belarusians and 11 Russians have been arrested. Numbers are confirmed by the police station.

14:55 - Alexander Sheremetev, one of the organizers of the action was beaten by a homophobe at the Protest. His attacker has also been arrested.

15:15 - Nikolai Alekseev is tweeting to President Medvedev "Mr President, heartfelt greetings from Police captain Valery Alexandrovich of Division # 2 Admiralty District"

15:45 - The IDAHO Committee is the first NGO to react. Louis-Georges Tin its President delayed his participation in today's Paris Gay Pride to call the French Foreign Affairs Ministry asking for a reaction of the French government. In a press-release, Mr Tin is drawing a parallel between the Paris Gay Pride which takes place today under the sun and the faith of the Russian activists in St. Petersburg who have been arrested and beaten. He is demanding from the French government to call on the Russian authorities to immediately released those who have been arrested.

15:50 - Renting a boat and decorate it with a rainbow flag was not difficult, one of the organizers said. "We just went to the owner last night, explaining the plan and he just told us, as long as you pay me, I can go around as much as you like"".

16:15 - Those arrested said they might be taken to Court shortly. They are still at the Police station.

16:25 - The police said the activists will be charged of organizing an illegal action but perhaps also of resisting police order. This second charge could lead to a 15-day prison sentence.

16:55 - Several activists including Anna Komarova, were taken to the police cell and their mobile phones were taken from them.

17:00 - In 20mn, the 3 hours maximum detention limit will end. Police will have to notify their charges to those who were arrested.

17:09 - The activists were formally  charged for organizing an illegal public action and for disobeying police orders. They could be sentence by a judge to a jail term of 15 days. 

17:55 - Nikolai Alekseev reports that he is with others in one room while trans rights activist Anna Komarova is in a cell without access to his mobile phone.

18:55 - "All is going as if we will sleep in militia until court hearing tomorrow morning@ is tweeting Nikolai Alekseev from the police station.

19:00 - Alexander Sheremetev, one of the organizer who was attacked by a homophobe during the action is taken to the hospital in emergency under police escort.

19:25 - The attacker of Alexander Sheremetiev has been released. Some said that he was already seen disrupting a previous action by feminists.

19:42 - "It is confirmed. We will all be kept in detention until a Court hearing which is scheduled not before tomorrow" said Nikolai Alekseev from the police station.

20:18 - "Call the Embassy of your country in Moscow and protest" are saying those arrested from the police station.

20:20 - Andy Thayer from Gay Liberation Network is asking American to call the Russian Embassy in Washington D.C.. "Gay Pride demonstrators brutally attacked & arrested in St Petersburg, Russia – facing poss 15 days in jail. Flood Russian embassy with calls to protest: 202-338-3263" said Thayer on facebook. Thayer was arrested at Moscow Pride last month.

20:44 - "They are taking all our things and they will put us in cells overnight so we will no longer be able to tweet and communicate. Court hearings is scheduled at 10am tomorrow but as there are 14 of us, it will probably last all the day" just told us by phone Nikolai Alekseev.

20:50 - In 10 mn starts the protest in front of the Russian Embassy in Berlin. The protest is organized by Norbert Blech, Maik Diekmannshemke, and Charles Meacham who were in Moscow last month for the Pride. Today took place Berlin Pride.

21:01 - Those who were not arrested are bringing food to the police station for those who were arrested. Anna Komarova is giving bananas to people from Tadjikistan who have been kept in detention in this police station for 3 days and were not given any food since then.

21:09 - "Moscow ordered to keep you in detention overnight". This is what detainees have been told by a police officer. "We wanted to get rid of you but we were instructed not to do so" added the officer.

21:20 - Alexander Sheremetiev is back to the police station from the hospital. He was diagnosed with head and lips bruises. 

21:40 - One of the last tweet of Nikolai Alekseev: "Starting to put people in cells. Might not be able to tweet soon".

21:49 - Maik is informing us from Berlin that 100 people protested in front of the Russian Embassy including Member of Bundestag Volker Beck. Beck was attacked while taking part to Moscow Pride in 2006. He was also arrested in 2006 and 2007.

23:30 - Detainees managed to keep a mobile phone. They told us that they have been put in two different cells (5 in one and 9 in another). "It is suffocating in this cell and the police denied us water" said the text message we received.
  • Sunday 26 June 2011
01:01 - "It is like a torture in this cell. We cannot sleep. It is so hot. We are all wet." says the text message we received from Nikolai Alekseev.  

02:00 - At the protest in Berlin, Volker Beck declared: "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 unaccaptable and I expect from our government to explicitly address this issue in bilateral discussions with the Russian government". Sergey Yenin, co-chair of IDAHO Belarus was taking 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 done by US photographer Chad Meacham.

9:58 - Overnight, Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner reacted to yesterday's suppression of the 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.

10:00 - The Court hearing is supposed to start now for those who are detained but the phone lines are silent. We did not receive any update.

10:02 - A video of yesterday's Protest in Berlin in front of the Russian Embassy has been posted in YouTube.

11:00 - "We are still in the cell, no info on Court hearing. It was supposed to start at 10am but it is 11am now" says the text message we received from Alexander Sheremetiev.

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 off from the Court room.

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. It was a sauna inside. All were suffocating."

11.30 - Further reports 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 cell."

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.

11.56 - Action Alert: Ask Hillary to speak up tomorrow for Gay Rights in Russia and against St. Petersburg Gay Pride Bashing. Hillary 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.

12.40 - The Court hearing has not yet started.

12.51 - Nikolai Alekseev reports from Court: "Police entered the court room to talk with the judge. Noone else is there. You can guess the justice we might have."

13.02 - Nikolai Alekseev reports from Court: "First hearing starts. Against Anton Sutyagin. He alone went inside court room. Others not allowed in."

13.05 - Photos from the Berlin Protest yesterday have now been posted. 

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."

13.20 - Nikolai Alekseev reports from Court via Twitter: "Anton Sutyagin is released. He is out of court. Belarusian Varvara Krasutskaya is next in the court room."

13.40 - Anton Sutyagin told us 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. Anton Sutyagin was regularly arrested for taking part to unsanctioned Moscow Pride in the past years.

13.46 - Nikolai Alekseev reports: "I have just been released by court. 500 rub fine for illegal protest and 6 July as the date of hearing on police disobedience."

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, fined 500 Rub. Anna Komarova was fined 1'000 Ruble on the basis that he was arrested before in St. Petersburg."

14.19Nikolai Alekseev reports via Twitter: "Sergei Timofeev is released. 1000 rub fine as he was one of official organizers of the Pride."

14.39Nikolai Alekseev reports via Twitter: "Chief organizer 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."

15.14 - Nikolai Alekseev reports via Twitter: "Dmitri Musolin is released. 500 rub fine plus 11 July hearing on other charge. Oleg Grannikov, founder of livejournal community LGBT Grani is released. 500 rub fine and second hearing on 18 July."

16.08 - Nikolai Alekseev reports via Twitter: "Alexey Kiselev is released. 500 rub fine and second hearing on 18 June. Belarusian activist Siarhei Yasiukaits is released. 500 rub fine and next hearing on 18 July. Belarusian activist Raman Navoyeu is released. 500 rub fine and second hearing on 18 July. All Belarusians are released, two locals left in court."

16.13 - Nikolai Alekseev reports via Twitter: "St. Petersburg activist Maxim Lysak is released. 500 rub fine and second hearing on 18 July."

16.20 - Nikolai Alekseev reports via Twitter: "Sergei Volkov is released. 500 rub fine and second hearing on 18 July. All 14 activists are now released! All are free."

All those arrested have been released. Thank you for watching this blog during this week-end.


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May 27

Russia decriminalized male homosexuality

In 1993, President Boris Yeltsin signed a decree which repealed the law forbidding male homosexuality. Starting from 2006, Russian gay rights activists started to celebrate this date by attempting to organize an annual gay rights march known as Moscow Gay Pride. The first edition was banned and marred with violence. It was reffered as the first Russian Stonewall.

May 17

Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia

This day was founded in 2004 by French Academic Louis-Georges Tin to mark the anniversary of the declassification of homosexuality from the list of disease by the World Health Organization. Russian LGBT have been celebrating this day every year since 2005 under the leadership of Project GayRussia which was itself founded on May 17, 2005. GayRussia is Russia's coordinator of IDAHO.

May 15

Slavic Gay Pride in Minsk

Following Moscow in May 2009, Minsk was the second capital to host the Slavic Gay Pride. The March was banned and marred with violence but it did not prevent two dozens of Pride organizers from Moscow, Minsk and St. Petersburg to march over 300 meters waiving a 10meters long rainbow flag. 11 participants including some of the organizers were brutally arrested by police forces.

May 12

Lesbian same-sex couple attempt to register marriage in Moscow

2009 marked the launch of GayRussia's campaign for the opening of same-sex union of gays and lesbians in Russia. While the Constitutional Court already expressd the opinion that marriage is between a man and a woman, activists believe that the lack of partnership or marriage for gay couples is a strong point to impose legislative changes via a decision of the European Court of Human Rights.

April 11

Victory for Russian LGBT activists at the European Court of Human Rights

The five-judge panel of the Grand Chamber of the Court rejected the appeal of the Russian Federation in the Moscow Pride Ban case. The decision given on October 21 is final. By repeatedly banning Gay Pride Marches as well as other LGBT themed public action, Russia breached the European Convention on Human Rights.