■ The banner hung from an apartment under siege
across from Moscow City Hall
photo © GayRussia.ru
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.
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.
not known if the police carried out their drugs threat, or if the four have
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
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
group of activists went to the Tverskoy Police Station to deliver food and
drinks for their colleagues who are being detained.
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".
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.
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.
are being made to take legal measures to get the police to withdraw.
STORY IS DEVELOPING AND UPDATES WILL BE MADE TO THIS PAGE
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
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
long are you going to stay there, the journalists asked? Do you have food ?
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.
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.
full blog, click
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Creative Commons Licence.
Posted: 1 June 2008 at
17:30 (UK time)
Last updated at 19:40