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Russia: Dozens arrested at St Petersburg Coming Out Day rally

Detainees include LGBT activists and their opponents

Activist Natalia Tsymbalova says police helped LGBT opponents break up the St Petersburg Coming Out Day rally. Credit:

Police detained dozens of people after intervening in a clash over a thwarted Coming Out Day event in St Petersburg, RIA Novosti reports.

As LGBT activists arrived for the rally in the downtown area, they were met by opponents, including people wearing Cossack uniforms, members of nationalist groups and Orthodox Church adherents who blocked their passage into the Field of Mars, a site where public demonstrations take place without warranting official permission, the report says.

About 15 activists and 30 of their opponents were held after an attempt to raise rainbow flags, with one flagbearer reportedly wrestled to the ground.

Activist Natalia Tsymbalova, an organizer of the event, told Reuters authorities helped the "homophobes" scatter the rally.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly denied that his country, which will host the 2014 Winter Games in about four months, discriminates against LGBT people despite the passage of several anti-gay laws, with more in the works, that are being blamed for an increased crackdown on the community.