MOSCOW POLICE ARREST GAY PRIDE LEADER AND 50-100 OTHERS TODAY AT BANNED MARCH--Gay German MP Volker Beck, Oscar Wilde's Grandson, and Paris Mayor's Rep All Injured (Updated)
Moscow's police --1000 of whom were deployed to enforce Mayor Yuri Luzhkov's ban on a Gay Pride March scheduled for today -- have arrested Nicolas Alexeyev, principal organizer of the banned, first-ever Pride March in Russia's capitol, the Russian news agency Interfax has reported. Alexeyev was arrested while attempting to lay a wreath at Russia's World War II-era Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (right) in Alexander's Garden, one of the city's largest parks, which runs the entire length of the Kremlin's west wall.
The choice of the Tomb for the wreath-laying was designed to emphasize the links between the struggle against Nazi Germany and the fight for the rights of gay people. Ten other Gay Pride participants were also arrested at that time. Reuters later reported that Alexeyev was "dragged, bent almost double, away from the gates [of the Tomb] by two policemen."
Yevgenia Debryanskaya, a prominent lesbian movement activist, was also later arrested by police today near Moscow's city hall, at the monument to Yuri Dolgoruky, along with some dozen other Gay Pride marchers, after the demonstrators moved to the monument, police told Interfax.
"OMON anti-riot task force servicemen have now cordoned-off the square in front of the monument to Yuri Dolgoruky and are shoving those protesting the gay parade from the square," Interfax reported at 3:40 PM Moscow time. The OMON (insignia at right), frequently accused of abuse of power and repressive violence, was created as an anti-terrorist cum riot militia for the Moscow Summer Olympics in 1980, and continues to exist since the fall of the Communist regime.