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Sept 21 rally planned in support of gay rights in Russia

'Protest Luzhkov everywhere you can abroad!': Alexeyev

The Vancouver Pride Society says it will join in an international rally of solidarity in support of queer rights in Russia following the abduction and subsequent release of Russian gay rights activist Nikolai Alexeyev.

The hour-long rally will be held on Sept 21 from 6pm at the community garden at the intersection of Davie and Burrard streets. Alexeyev was a grand marshal during Vancouver’s 2010 Pride parade; Sept 21 is the birthday of Moscow’s anti-gay mayor, Yury Luzhkov.

Alexeyev issued a call for international protests against Luzhkov, who has repeatedly banned Pride parades in Moscow, calling them “satanic.”

“Tomorrow me and other activists are going for unsanctioned demonstration in front of Moscow City Hall to ask for criminal prosecution of Mayor Luzhkov who is now in Austria with his billioneer wife,” Alexeyev reportedly stated in a message on his Facebook profile. “The action is at 6pm on Tuesday in front of City Hall. Protest Luzhkov everywhere you can abroad! It can especially be effective in Austria!!!”

Alexeyev, who was a grand marshal during this summer’s Pride parade in Vancouver, says Russian authorities detained him at Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport, where he was waiting to board a flight to Geneva on Sept 15. Alexeyev says he was held captive for more than two days, during which he was targeted with homophobic insults and asked to cease his political fight against Luzhkov.

Russian authorities also demanded that he withdraw lawsuits lodged with the European Court of Human Rights over the banning of Moscow’s Gay Pride marches, Alexeyev says.

In a recent letter addressed to the Russian ambassador to Canada, Vancouver Pride Society president Ken Coolen expressed his outrage at Alexeyev’s treatment.

“His [Alexeyev’s] tireless dedication to the legal advancement of human and civil rights for LGBT persons in Russia and Eastern Europe is an inspiration to everyone,” wrote Coolen, adding that Vancouver’s Pride Society will stand in solidarity with Alexeyev in his fight for gay rights.