RUBY PRATKA: Activists in Russia and Belarus say reports that Moscow Pride organizer Nikolai Alexeyev has turned up in Minsk are false.
"All of our activists are certain that those SMS messages [seemingly sent by Alexeyev from Minsk] are a police ruse," said Alexeyev's colleague, Nikolai Baev. "Most likely, they were distributed by the same people who organized his kidnapping, with intent to spread misinformation and possibly to discredit him," Baev said.
"I think that this report about political asylum in Belarus is a police ruse. Most likely he's probably somewhere far from Moscow, but I don't know if he's free or still being held."
The Belarusian site gaybelarus.by ran a Russian-language story earlier today titled, "Nikolai Alexeyev: I never was in Minsk and never sent anyone any text messages."
Gaybelarus reports that Alexeyev told an anonymous "close friend" that his cellphone was confiscated two days ago.
"Nikolai used my nickname when he messaged me, so I was certain that it was him," says the source.
The source says their conversation was "normal, although short," and Alexeyev said he was far from Moscow and trying to get back to the capital.
"If he's free, he's probably trying to get to Moscow," said Baev. "I know [the authorities] had treated him roughly earlier, but I didn't think his detention and kidnapping would be carried out in such a rough, open manner…. From the Russian authorities, one can expect anything at all."
File photo of Nikolai Alexeyev: Yuri Gavrikov