The two gay activists arrested in St Petersburg on Thursday (5 April) have been released by a court.
They were the first two people arrested in the Russian city under its new legislation which bans ‘the promotion of homosexuality to minors’ and had faced fines of 5,000 roubles ($172 €125) each and 15 days imprisonment if found guilty.
Magistrate Alexei Kuznetsov ruled on Friday that the evidence presented by the police that Alexei Kiselev and Cyril Nepomnyashiy had contravened the now-infamous ‘gay propaganda to minors’ law did not meet legal requirements.
According to reports, Kiselyov and Nepomnyashiy had travelled from Moscow to St Petersburg to challenge the law and displayed placards simply saying ‘Gay – this is normal’.
GayRussia.eu reported this evening that ‘based on available information at our disposal, the police evidence did not specify the detailed content of the activists, even posters’.
Nikolai Alekseev, founder of Moscow Pride and GayRussia, is the legal representative for the two.
He told Gay Star News: ‘Posters themselves were not brought to court by police as evidence’
And the court refused to hear the ‘administrative offence’ that Kiselev and Nepomnyashiy were also charged with – namely that they had not applied for a license to hold their protest.
‘The fate of these administrative cases is dependent on the actions of the police to address the violations,’ Alekseev said. ‘If the records are returned to the court, the magistrate will consider the case and give a verdict. But in such cases, the police often simply close the case.
‘It shows the absolute inoperability of the law, initiated by the deputy Vitaly Milonov. Remember that last Wednesday the activists from the St Petersburg LGBT organisation Equality, Yuri and Maria Gavrikov Efremenkova, held pickets near the Junior Library.
‘The the police did not intervene. But the following day, the two activists from Moscow Gay Pride staged a similar picket at the Palace of Youth Creativity on Nevsky Prospect – and were arrested within half an hour and taken to the police department.’
The pair had spent a night in police cells before being taken in front of the court where they were released.