07MOSCOW2739, MOSCOW GAY RIGHTS MARCH: POLICE LOOK ON AS

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MOSCOW2739 2007-06-08 11:13 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO9693
PP RUEHDBU RUEHLN RUEHPOD RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHMO #2739/01 1591113
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 081113Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1051
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHLN/AMCONSUL ST PETERSBURG 4211
RUEHVK/AMCONSUL VLADIVOSTOK 2178
RUEHYG/AMCONSUL YEKATERINBURG 2499

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 002739 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PHUM PGOV RS
SUBJECT: MOSCOW GAY RIGHTS MARCH: POLICE LOOK ON AS 
MARCHERS ATTACKED 
 
MOSCOW 00002739  001.2 OF 002 
 
 
1. (SBU) Summary: The May 27 gay rights demonstration and its 
aftermath highlight two disheartening trends in Russia: the 
increasing collusion between security forces and nationalist 
groups, and the reluctance of the human rights community to 
engage on an issue that has little resonance with Russians. 
Neo-fascist and nationalist groups attacked would-be 
participants in a banned gay rights march in Moscow under the 
watchful eyes of the security forces.  Following the attack, 
the police detained several gay rights activists while 
allowing their attackers to go free.  EU embassies whose 
citizens were attacked complained to the GOR, while Russian 
human rights groups remained muted in their criticism.  End 
summary. 
 
---------------------------- 
The Gay Rights Demonstration 
---------------------------- 
 
2. (SBU) On May 26, gay activists held a conference "Gay 
Rights as Human Rights" and attempted a march on Moscow city 
hall despite a ban on what Mayor Luzhkov called their 
"Satanic" demonstration.  Nikolay Alekseyev of the Human 
Rights Project and other march organizers, joined by several 
European parliamentarians, were met by special forces troops 
and surrounded by journalists upon their arrival at Mayor 
Luzhkov's office.  They were detained, pushed into a van, and 
transported to police headquarters, where they were held 
overnight. 
 
3. (SBU) Approximately 100 other gay rights activists were 
then confronted by nationalist, neo-fascist, and 
ultra-conservative counter-demonstrators.  An Embassy officer 
on the scene observed that the police did not separate the 
demonstrators from the counter-demonstrators.  The 
counter-demonstrators threw eggs, water, and punches at the 
gay right activists while the police watched.  Several 
activists were detained by the police after being beaten by 
counter-demonstrators (approximately 30 gay rights activists 
and four counter-demonstrators were detained).  Four Western 
European Green Party and other leftist politicians (the UK's 
Peter Tatchell, German Bundestag member Volker Beck, and two 
Italian members of the European Parliament) were also 
assaulted by the counter-demonstrators and then detained by 
the police. Tatchell (who was later diagnosed with a mild 
concussion) told us that he was kept in a police van with 
three neo-Nazis and taunted by police, who denied him medical 
attention for more than an hour. 
 
--------------------------------------------- --- 
Homosexuality as Demographic and Security Threat 
--------------------------------------------- --- 
 
4. (SBU) Vsevolod Chaplin, deputy head of the Moscow 
Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations, told 
us that the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) did not support the 
anti-gay protesters, despite the presence of several ROC 
priests in the ranks of those violently protesting the 
demonstration.  The ROC had, however, spoken out in 
opposition to the gay rights march. The ROC External Affairs 
office issued a statement on May 23 saying, "The Russian 
Orthodox Church considers parades by sexual minorities an 
unacceptable practice that encroaches on the moral standards 
shared by our multiethnic people, on public order, and, in 
the long term, on the future of our people. Degradation of a 
nation is an inevitable threat if its people do not 
procreate. So, in the long term, propaganda of homosexuality 
is an appeal for the annihilation of our people."  President 
Putin's aside (at a February 2 press conference) portraying 
homosexuals as a demographic threat has since been picked up 
by the ROC and others. 
 
----------------- 
European Reaction 
----------------- 
 
5. (SBU) In the wake of the detentions, the Italian Embassy 
petitioned authorities to release its nationals.  The Italian 
members of the European Parliament and one member of the 
European Commission were charged with illegally crossing 
police lines. The German Embassy called the Moscow city 
government and the Russian Interior Ministry to secure the 
release of Volker Beck.  The next day, the German Embassy 
accompanied Beck to the MFA and to the office of Human Rights 
Ombudsman Vladimir Lukin to protest his treatment.  Lukin 
asked that the complaint be submitted in writing.  The 
British Ambassador is sending a letter to Foreign Minister 
Lavrov protesting the inaction of the police in the beating 
 
MOSCOW 00002739  002.2 OF 002 
 
 
of Tatchell and others. 
 
--------------------- 
Organizers Next Steps 
--------------------- 
 
6. (SBU) March organizer Alekseyev said that he was held in a 
cell overnight with two other protesters and was treated well 
by the police.  "They were almost apologetic, telling me that 
the orders to hold us overnight came "from the highest 
levels," which Alekseyev took to mean Luzhkov. He was charged 
the next morning with disobeying a police order and failure &
#x000A;to produce identity documents.  Alekseyev is confident that 
the video and eyewitness evidence that he will produce at his 
hearing on June 8 will lead the court to drop the charges. 
 
7. (SBU) Alekseyev was pleased with the amount of media 
coverage the demonstration had received and was already 
planning another march next May.  He also planned to file a 
case against the authorities for illegally banning the march, 
as he had done last year.  He appealed last year's ban to the 
European Court of Human Rights and expects his case to be 
heard within the next few months.  Alekseyev is also working 
with several European Green parties to institute a travel ban 
on Mayor Luzhkov and other officials as a way of pressuring 
the authorities to allow the march. 
 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
Muted Response from Russian Human Rights Groups 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
 
8. (SBU) The Human Rights community has voiced only muted 
support for the gay rights activists.  The Moscow Helsinki 
Group provided the venue for the pre-demonstration press 
conference but did not otherwise participate.  Human Rights 
Watch (HRW) Moscow Director Allison Gill told us HRW Russia 
did not send anyone, but HRW's office for Lesbian, Gay, 
Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) issues sent two observers 
from New York to the demonstration, one of whom was detained. 
 
 
9. (SBU) Human rights expert Kirill Babichenko told us that 
many human rights advocates find the issue of gay rights 
distasteful or "not serious" and distance themselves from it. 
 Gill and Alekseyev said that the gay rights activists 
themselves disagree about the best approach, with many 
believing that a demonstration could backfire.  Gill said 
that the participation in the demonstration of Duma Deputy 
Aleksey Mitrofanov of Zhirinovskiy's party had turned many 
supporters away from the event. While many Russian human 
rights supporters see the dispersal of the gay rights 
demonstration as a violation of the right to freedom of 
assembly, they are not saying so publicly. In a May 30 
letter, for example, the leaders of several human rights 
groups asked the G8 leaders to "explicitly and unambiguously 
bring to the attention of Mr. Putin...your concern about the 
gross, mass, and defiant violations of the most fundamental 
human rights and democratic freedoms."  The letter mentioned 
the crackdown on the Other Russia demonstrations of 2006 and 
2007, but omitted the gay rights demonstration. 
 
10. (SBU) In a post-demonstration conversation, Mitrofanov 
described to us his efforts to avert the beatings of 
gay-rights demonstrators.  The unwillingness of law 
enforcement to intervene caused him and members of the pop 
music group t.A.T.u. to flee the scene of the march at one 
point.  Mitrofanov said he attended the march because "seven 
percent" of his electorate is gay or supports gay rights. 
His efforts to have a representative of Mayor Luzhkov's 
office accept a petition about the march signed, he said, by 
fifty Europarliamentarians were ignored. 
 
------- 
Comment 
------- 
 
11. (SBU) The events of May 27 suggest that there is at least 
the passive cooperation of the security forces and 
nationalist groups in stanching protests by a group that 
enjoys little popular support.  The muted response of the 
Russian human rights community to this unsettling practice 
reflects the widespread homophobia in Russian society and the 
difficult path facing gay rights activists. 
BURNS

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