40 arrested as Moscow anti-riot police use violence to break up Slavic Pride march
Boycott Eurovision, say Pride organisers
Moscow - 16th May
Sources from Moscow have reported that police have used violent and oppressive tactics to break up the peaceful Slavic Pride march in the city.
The march had been outlawed by Moscow city authorities, but permission had been given for counter-demonstrations by far right ultra-nationalists.
Between 35 and 40 Russian LGBT activists have been arrested, including British human rights activist Peter Tatchell and Chicago LGBT activist Andy Thayer. Pride organiser Nikolai Alekseev was held down by 5 fully armed riot police and arrested.
European Embassy diplomats witnessed the violence are said to be planning a joint diplomatic action.
Slavic Pride organisers have called on the artists and performers of Eurovision to boycott tonight's showpiece event in solidarity with the beaten and arrested protesters.
Organiser Nikolai Alekseev said
"I call upon all of the artists who are due to perform at tonight's Eurovision to boycott tonight's event and send a message that Russia's state oppression of human rights is not acceptable.
"The Russian Government is using this years Eurovision in Moscow as a gala showpiece to show the world how far the country has improved since the early 1990's. However, what was witnessed this afternoon on the streets of Moscow shows the world just how little Russia has travelled when it comes to supporting fundamental human rights.
"The police brutality that we witnessed here this afternoon is shocking. We planned a peaceful march to highlight the dire state of LGBT rights in Russia today. The police, given violent legitimacy by the openly homophobic Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov, did not hold back with their weapons, despite the world's media watching.
"We were defending the often violated human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Russians. We demand the same legal protection against discrimination and hate crimes that none LGBT people enjoy.
"This episode has shamed the Russian Government and Moscow authorities before the world."