Global Outcry Frees Russian Gay Leader

Published: September 29, 2010

Just three days after a frightening 72-hour ordeal in which he was kidnapped, drugged, and intimidated by Russian strongman Vladimir Putin’s security forces — provoking world-wide protests — Russia’s best known gay activist, the intrepid Nikolai Alexeyev, was arrested on September 21 along with ten other gay activists, part of a group of 30 who were holding a demonstration outside ultra-homophobic Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov’s office.

An Agence France Presse reporter was also briefly detained.

In full view of a large media contingent, Alexeyev, a young lawyer and the lead organizer of repeated annual attempts to hold Gay Pride marches in that city, was roughly dragged away by police after he had chained himself to the fence surrounding Luzhkov’s City Hall office.

Luzhkov, who has called Gay Pride marches “satanic,” has banned them since 2006.

Alexeyev told Gay City News by telephone from Moscow that his wrist was badly injured when police used brute physical force to separate him from the fence, instead of following standard practice of using a chain-cutter. “It will take awhile to heal, but I am okay,” he said. (A video of the arrests, with Russian subtitles, is at youtube.com/watch?v=f1yocqekWS0.)

Those arrested were released the same day, and Alexeyev said they are due back in court on October 6 to face charges of “holding an illegal demonstration.”

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