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Moscow City Court refuses to review Pride ban defying Council of Europe

Moscow City Court refuses to review Pride ban defying Council of Europe

The Presidium of Moscow City Court, the highest court in the city, rejected the appeal of organizers of Gay Pride in Moscow to reconsider the ban against the event by city’s authorities.

Moscow City Court previously dismissed the appeal against a ruling by Tverskoy District Court of Moscow, on 9 July, to uphold the ban on Moscow Pride.

In this appeal for the court to reconsider its previous decision, Nikolai Alekseev, chair and founder of Moscow Pride, demanded a cancellation of the ban according to the 2010 ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

ECHR ruled that by banning Moscow Pride in 2006, 2007 and 2008 Russia breached three articles of the European Convention of Human Rights, to which it is signatory, including the right to freedom of assembly, the right to effective legal remedy and the ban on discrimination.

The ordered Russia to lift the ban and pay compensation to Alekseev, an appeal by Russia in 2011 to overturn this decision was rejected.

Nevertheless, city authorities defied the ECHR ruling and banned Moscow Pride in 2011.

Yesterday (25 December) the Presidium of Moscow City Court refused to consider this appeal thereby confirming the legitimacy of the ban which has been applied seven times in a row since 2006, in defiance of ECHR ruling.

This decision also defies a strong recent criticism by the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers (CECM) over the continued failure of Russia to implement the ECHR’s ruling, demanding a plan of action be submitted to the body to address the issue by the end of 2012.

Alekseev told Gay Star News that Moscow’s authorities banned the May event on various grounds, most recently stating that holding the event in the city centre could ‘upset’ families and children, and that some participants could behave ‘provocatively’.

This despite that the organizers of Moscow Pride expressed their willingness to carry out the event in any area within the administrative boundaries of Moscow, and ensure no profanity or nudity during the march, but this was not taken into consideration by the Moscow city court nor the authorities.

Speaking with GSN Alekseev said: ‘We are not really surprised by decision; we never won a case in the Moscow City Court. Such decisions are arbitrary and political and against international conventions and obligations of which Russia is a signatory.

‘This means we will apply to the ECHR over Russia’s violation of its ruling, in addition we are considering also appealing to Russian Supreme Court.

‘This joins three more pending cases in ECHR against the Russian ban of Moscow Pride in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

‘Moscow City court is just ignoring these decisions, and that would make it very difficult for Russia to justify its actions to CECM by the end of this year’.

The Council of Europe Committee of Ministers is expected to meet and discuss Russia’s report on its application of ECHR ruling in March 2013.