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Moscow Cops Threaten to Bust Gays for Drug Dealing in Apartment Stand-Off After Pride


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Last updated at 19:40


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■ The banner hung from an apartment under siege  across from Moscow City Hall

MOSCOW, June 1, 2008    Police this evening threatened to plant drugs on the four gay activists who are trapped in an apartment opposite the Moscow City Hall.

The four were in the apartment to hang a banner outside the window demanding equal rights for gays and lesbians, and the prosecution of mayor Yuri Luzhzov for failing to uphold the Russian constitution.

Police have been trying to gain access to the apartment for six hours, demanding the door is opened.  They finally broke in shortly after 9pm.  The four were arrested and taken to the Tverskoy Police Station.

It is not known if the police carried out their drugs threat, or if the four have been charged.

On arrival at the police station, one of the activists said that the  head of the police asked him if he thought it "was normal to organise all that".  The activist replied that "the fight is only starting - you did not leave us any choice".

At 10:30pm, the police confirmed that the owner of the apartment was not present when entry was forced.  They also confirmed that there was no court order for them to force entry. 

Activists say that the arrest of the four, together with the forcing of the door,  were illegal and pledge to take the matter through the court system. 

A small group of activists went to the Tverskoy Police Station to deliver food and drinks for their colleagues who are being detained. 

21:41:  The four activists have been arrested ant taken to Tverskoy Police Station.  The head of the police is reported to have asked one of the activists if he thought it "was normal to organise all that".  The activist replied that "the fight is only starting - you did not leave us any choice".

Kirill Nepomnjaschij, one of the gays in the apartment, said prior to the door being forced that the police had warned the four that drugs would be planted and then the four would be arrested for drug trafficking.

Other gay Moscow activists say that they are in touch will lawyers who have said that the four in the apartment should not open the door.

Efforts are being made to take legal measures to get the police to withdraw.


From the live blog of the Russian gay activists that is being facilitated by UK Gay News (all times are Moscow time (UCT plus 4):

13:45:  Police are trying to break the door of the apartment where the activists unfurled the banner. There are said to be four of them inside the building, across the street from City hall  Without a court order, this is a breach of private property - and illegal.

14:00.  Police prevent reporters from getting into apartment building.  Activists trapped in apartment, but are being interviewed over the telephone.  AFP lead the foreign press pack.  Nikolai Alexeyev tells press that it is a blow for the Mayor that he was not able to prevent the banner being displayed in front of City Hall for the world to see.

14:10:  Four gay activists are trapped in the apartment block.  Three uniformed police officers with two, presumably, plain-clothed officers, are still trying to break-down the door.

14:30.  Russian media is reporting that gay rights defenders succeeded in organising a Gay Pride in Moscow.

15:20:  Nothing further has been heard from Moscow.  Pictures are now being sent.

16:40.  The four activists are still trapped in the flat.  But they are reporting that they are fine.  Russian news agency Interfax reported a few minutes ago that the apartment door is heavily damaged, but is still secure.

17:20.  Gay activists are concerned over their four comrades who are still under siege in the apartment.  The latest news is that the police are reported to have cut off the electrical suppy to the entire building.

18:00.  Police allowed Interfax and RTR (the main TV channel in Russia) access into the building, where the four activists are under siege, to do an interview "through the door".

Kirill Nepomnjaschij.  who is supervising the operations inside the apartment with the three other activists, reported by telephone the gist of the interview:

How long are you going to stay there, the journalists asked?  Do you have food ?

Well, we are not going to beat the record of the blockade of Leningrad but we will stay. We have food here and everything, Kirill Nepomnjaschij replied.

Then addressing the police through the door he said  that if they were looking for Nikolai Alekseev, he is not here. You will not arrest him.

19:00.  Volker Beck, the openly gay German MP and Green Party whip, has issued a statement.  Mr. Beck is a "veteran" of Moscow Pride - he suffered cuts to the head in Moscow in 2006.  "I just called my foreign office to ask them for help and assistance for the four people in the apartment," he said by email to UK Gay News.

"I ask the Russian Authorities to respect their own laws and constitution, and the freedoms of their citizens guaranteed by the European Human Rights Convention. Gays and lesbians enjoy the same rights and fundamental freedoms as anybody else. This should be accepted also by Russian courts and administration."

19:55:  Police are reported to be trying to gain access to the apartment by forcing their way in.  The four activists say "there is light coming through the keyhole".  They also report that the police are carrying out their forced entry silently.

20:01. Someone saying he is from the prosecutors office has arrived at the apartment and has demanded that the door is opened.

For the full blog, click HERE

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Posted: 1 June 2008 at 17:30 (UK time)
Last updated at 19:40


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