All the participants in today’s St Petersburg gay pride parade have been arrested and are being detained in police vans.
Some participants were badly beaten by anti-gay protestors.
Nikolai Alekseev, one of Russia’s most prominent LGBT activists who was arrested last month for organizing a gay rights march, confirmed with GSN that around 60 fellow activists and pro-gay supporters are now in police custody.
Several people also were badly beaten by anti-gay protestors who attacked the partcipants, with some suffering injuries.
Alekseev, who was not arrested since he was standing outside the fenced area of St Petersburg pride, managed to tell GSN that participants were detained for breaching Russia’s ‘gay propaganda’ bill that passed Russia’s upper house in parliament two days ago.
Five Russian gay couples, who yesterday in a historical legal move applied for marriage licenses, were also taking part in today's march and are now in police custody. The chair of St Petersburg Pride and Equality organization Yury Gavrikov and his partner Maksim were one of the couples arrested.
Dimitry Chunosov, who along with his partner partcipated in yesterday's application for marriage license, was reported to have been beaten up by the anti-gay protestors.
Gavrikov, who knew he was likely to face arrest for organizing today's gay pride march, could face double penalties as an LGBT individual and leader of an LGBT organization who breached the local and federal Russia's gay gag laws.
Both laws have been passed in order to 'protect minors' from so called ‘homosexual propaganda’ by punishing offenders with fines and jail sentences.
The St Petersburg law bans the 'propaganda' among minors of homosexuality, bisexuality and transsexuality, and makes the offense – which has never clearly been defined by lawmakers – punishable by a fine of 5,000 rubles ($157 €117) for individuals, 50,000 rubles ($1,570 €1,166) for officials and 250,000 to 500,000 rubles ($7,854 to $15,710 €5,830 to €11,660) for companies.
According to the Federal law, any media or gay rights organization could be fined up to one million rubles ($30,800 €23,200) and shut down for 90 days, individuals could be fined up to 100,000 rubles ($3,000 €2,300) and foreigners could be fined the same amount, held in jail for 15 days and deported.
Sources in St Petersburg indicate the individuals arrested today may be detained for up to two days.
According to the Russian LGBT Network, the detained activists were taken to several different police stations. All of them are being charged for disobedience to a lawful police officer’s order and/or violation of the law on public assembly (articles 19.3 and 20.2 of the Code of Administrative Offences).
Some police stations release activists after having prepared police records and issued summons to court. In others, police officers try to force the detainees to sign records that refer to deeds not committed by activists and not related to today’s action (eg banners and statements against Putin). Those who refuse to sign are informed that they will be kept in detention for another 24 hours.
Among the detained activists are two HIV positive people, who are in a situation dangerous for their lives as they are left without their medication and the police refuse to release them.
At least part of the detained counter-protesters were released, and some of them are now waiting by the police station building supposedly to attack the pride participants who may be soon released, too.
Watch a video of St Petersburg Pride (in Russian):