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Violence, arrests break up Moscow Pride march attempt

BY NATASHA BARSOTTI – In defiance of Moscow city authorities' seventh rejection of their Pride march application, activists, including Nikolai Alexeyev, staged a shortlived but, in the end, violence-marred protest outside the city's Duma, where they were eventually arrested.

The arrests followed what the Moscow Times describes as "fierce arguing" between gay rights activists and their detractors. The Moscow Times reports that anti-gay Orthodox Christian protesters, who showed up to disrupt the Pride event, were among 40 people detained.

One gay rights opponent, identified as Dmitri Tsarionov, held up a sign that read, "Moscow is not Sodom," according to media reports. The Associated Press quotes Tsarionov as saying that he wants "our children to live in a country where a sin that so awfully distorts human nature is not preached in schools" and that he "will not allow perverts to bring the wrath of God onto our city."

At the 2:08 mark of the video below, police are seen taking Alexeyev away as he tried to speak with media. The rest of the almost five-minute video highlights the harassment Pride activists faced May 27, as police escort them away and anti-gay opponents try to intimidate them as they are being interviewed by media, grabbing at their signs and rainbow flags and physically attacking them.

The latest violence comes in the wake of the European Parliament's adoption of a resolution condemning homophobic violence, the yearly prohibition of Pride events in the region and the increasing passage of anti-gay laws. 

Alexeyev and his fellow activists, who have persistently defied the city's annual Pride march bans, were this year celebrating the 19th anniversary of the decriminalization of homosexuality in Russia. They were also protesting Moscow's attempt to pass anti-gay legislation similar to that already passed in several Russian cities, including St Petersburg, the country's second-largest city.