Now Reading
Mob halts Russian gay film festival and chases organizers

Mob halts Russian gay film festival and chases organizers

A gang of homophobic youths mobbed people attending a gay film festival in Novosibirsk, Russia, forcing them to cancel the festival’s last day.

Even when they left the venue, the 30-strong mob chased organizers of the Side by Side LGBT Film Festival’s taxi.

And the festival team said police weren’t prepared to protect them following the incident yesterday (7 June).

A statement from Side by Side said: ‘The youths, numbering around 30 or so in total, had surrounded the shopping center where the screening was taking place in a multiplex on the fourth floor of the building.

‘Prior to the start, during and at the end of the event the youths gathered around the screening hall, shouting insults and it was clear from their discussions with each other and behavior that they were intent on violence.’

There was a strong police presence outside the building, overseeing a protest in support of a homophobic law that was having its second reading in the Novosibirsk parliament on the same day.

The police asked the youths to leave the shopping complex but they returned within minutes and started harassing the organizers again.

The Side by Side statement says: ‘This pattern was repeated throughout the entire period of the event. [The police were] failing entirely in their duties and the attempt to maintain effective public order and safety the threat of violence and danger to both audience members, volunteers and organizers was imminent.

‘At 9pm when the screening came to end the mob of youths had gathered outside the building.

‘Transportation was organized for both audience members and organizers. Security guards escorted visitors of the festival to their awaiting cars and taken away safely.

‘Last to leave were the festival organizers. An attempt was made to smash the rear passenger window of the taxi.

‘The youths had organized cars and a motorcycle to follow the organizers and police took no measures to stop their pursuit. It was only the high speed driving skills of the taxi driver that the organizers were able to escape without being followed.’

Festival director Gulya Sultanova, claims one of the police chiefs said: ‘Why have you circulated information about your festival? I don’t plan to be here tomorrow and protect you.’

Fearing for their safety, organizers have cancelled today’s screenings that were due to conclude the festival.

The event in Novosibirsk was the second of three LGBT film festivals planned for Siberia and organizers say they faced similar problems last weekend in the city of Kemerovo.

The final festival is planned for Tomsk, from today until 10 June. Organizers told Gay Star News that they are now at the festival and so far everything is peaceful.