Background Briefing

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Continued Violence on May 27

Several people were beaten in random incidents of violence, some severely. Kurt Krickler, an Austrian gay activist, said that near City Hall “I myself was attacked by four youth kicking me with their feet and beating me with their fists. I got a blow on my eye and could escape, and the aggressors ran away.”12 Pierre Serne, a French participant, was more seriously injured in two attacks. He told Human Rights Watch that he was “so afraid” after the violence at City Hall, he retreated to find his friends and check on their safety. “There were little groups of skinheads all around” on Tverskaia, he said.

Suddenly about twelve of them ran at me. They pushed me, I fell down, I was covering my head. They were kicking me with their feet. It was so terrifying, I thought I was going to die. … I don’t know how long it lasted, but they left me. I was bleeding. My face, my hands were covered with blood. I managed to get up, and I tried to walk up Tverskaia to go back toward City Hall. I thought police were still there.

I was asking people on the streets to help me, asking where the police were. People avoided me. And when some skinheads saw that no one was doing anything, they started to follow me again. I saw two Russian photographers who were covering the event. I asked them to call the police. But the skinheads started chasing all three of us, mainly, though, after me. They began hitting me again. Then the police arrived, at last.

They chased some of the skinheads away. They arrested five of them. Then they took me to the bus. I was put in with the skinheads, in the same bus. Those guys were just laughing in the bus, like the others on the street, as if they knew they had no fear of anything.  

I wasn’t under arrest. They took me with the skinheads to the police station. They asked me if I could recognize the guys, and I said I could recognize one. I called the French embassy and an official came to help. He recommended not to say that I was participating in the gay events, it would only make things take longer. I am flying back to Paris tomorrow, but I want to follow the case and see if anyone is actually prosecuted.13

No definitive figure has been released for those arrested in the day’s clashes. Human Rights Watch knows the names of six supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender pride events who were arrested. Nikolai Alexeyev, Dimitri Makarov, and Alexei Kozlov were all charged with organizing an unsanctioned demonstration, an administrative offense carrying a 2000-ruble fine (about $80 US). Others appear to have been charged with participating in an unsanctioned demonstration, an administrative offense carrying a lesser fine. The number of anti-gay demonstrators detained is apparently considerably higher. However, at least some if not most of those who engaged in violence were apparently charged only with the administrative offense of participating in an unsanctioned demonstration.14 All those detained were apparently released by the evening of May 27.

Most of the LGBT participants and their supporters were detained in the same buses and cells as their violent opponents. At the same time, several detained participants confirmed to Human Rights Watch that the skinheads and other violent anti-gay demonstrators were singled out for particular humiliation by the police. Dimitri Makarov told us,

The police knew the skinheads were capable of violence, so they really picked on them; whereas they knew at heart we were nothing to be afraid of. They made them crouch on the floor instead of the seats; they made fun of them and threatened to hit them. Some of us intervened several times and said to the police, “You don’t need to be violent with them.”

At the same time, Makarov, twenty-three years old, but an experienced demonstrator and human rights activist, said that during his hours in detention in a police station, police punched him in the stomach and smashed his hand against a wall. “They threatened me too, saying ‘We can beat you up, we can break your head on the toilets. We’ll beat you with the legal code till you realize what an unsanctioned demonstration is.’”15

[12] E-mail to Euro-Queer list from Kurt Krickler, May 27, 2006.

[13] Human Rights Watch interview with Pierre Serne, Moscow, May 28, 2006.

[14] For instance, Dimitri Makarov told us that the man and woman witnessed beating a Russian reporter near City Hall (see above), who were taken to the same police station as he, were charged only with the administrative offense: Human Rights Watch interview with Dimitri Makarov, May 27, 2006.

[15] Human Rights Watch interview with Dimitri Makarov, Moscow, May 27, 2006.

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