Russian police kick off gay pride season by detaining as many as 20 people

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In stark contrast with the celebratory scene in Ireland last week, several people were detained in Russia on Saturday after an unsanctioned gay-rights demonstration turned violent.


Pro-gay rights activists in Moscow organized their city's 10th annual Gay Pride march outside the mayor's office on May 30, ignoring their government's 10th annual ban on the event. Publicly promoting anything that authorities can construe as "gay propaganda" has been illegal in Russia since 2013, although Moscow's government has banned the Gay Pride march every year that it's been organized.

"We are just trying to hold a peaceful human rights action," well-known Russian gay-rights activist Nikolaï Alexeyev told Reuters.

But the peace didn't last. An estimated 30 nationalist counter-demonstrators interrupted the march by throwing eggs and punches and pepper-spraying the pro-gay rights activists.

Law enforcement intervened, detaining activists on both sides. The AP reports that police detained 15 people in total. Reuters says 20.


Alexeyev was among the activists detained. Before his phone was presumably seized, he tweeted and wrote on Instagram that one of his fingers was probably broken following the "brutal" arrest. As the police drove him to the hospital, he took a selfie with two other detainees sitting in the back of the van.


Alexeyev's social-media feeds went silent a few hours later. The most recent message on his Twitter timeline reads: "I am arrested until court on Monday with the accusation of illegal protest and disobedience of police orders!"


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