Renowned Russian LGBT rights advocate, Aleksei Kiselyov, has reportedly been granted political asylum in Spain.
Moscow based fellow gay rights advocate, Nikolai Alekseyev, reported today (26 April) that Spain granted Kiselyov asylum and a five-year permanent resident permit.
Kiselyov participated in a protest against the reelection of President Vladimir Putin on Moscow’s Bolotnaya Square in May 2012 that was violently dispersed by police.
Several activists who took part in the protest have been charged with organizing mass disorders.
Kiselyov told GayRussia that Spain’s speedy decision reflected a wider EU understanding that ‘last year’s events on Bolotnaya Square was a purely political matter of suppression of dissent in Russia’.
Kiselyov added that he would return to Russia ‘only after Putin’s dictatorial regime ends and all political prisoners are released’.
Kiselev had been an active member of GayRussia and Moscow Pride, participating in all events and repeatedly attacked by right wing extremists and faced prosecution by the Russian authorities.
Commenting on the news, Nikolay Alexeyev, co-founder of GayRussia and Moscow Pride told GSN: ‘Kiselev was a genuine asylum seeker who did a lot for Moscow Pride and the fight for LGBT rights in Russia in recent years.
‘He is one of the most courageous activists I ever knew as he was many times attacked by right wing extremists and arrested by police.
‘I am glad he was given protection by the Spanish government, which he really needed due to him being highly likely to face prosecution in Russia for his involvement in anti-Putin political rallies.
‘The seriousness of his position is proved by the fact that the Spanish authorities speeded up his asylum case proceedings and did not ask even for the second interview in Madrid, without an appeal to court.
‘This is just a proof that his case was very serious and that the application was genuine.
‘I salute Spain for granting him speedily asylum.
‘There are currently 29 people awaiting trial for the events on Bolotnaya Square that took place in May 2012.
‘And all the evidence against them is weak or non-existent. Nevertheless they are facing prosecution and remain detained in jail.
‘Kiselev is the first participant of these events who has been granted political asylum’.