MOSCOW, Russia – American gay-rights activists Dan Choi and Andy Thayer were among more than 30 people arrested today in Moscow as hate groups clashed with LGBT marchers.
The activists, who came from the U.S., the United Kingdom and other European nations, were demonstrating in front of the Kremlin and City Hall to protest the mayor’s denial of a permit to hold a gay rights parade in Moscow.
"We have been asking for the last six years to gather. We are being deprived of a very simple right that is taken for granted in democratic countries," Nikolai Alexeyev, head of Gay Russia, chief organizer of the Moscow Gay Pride Parade, told CNN.
Alexeyev said as soon as activists took out their banners and flags, dozens of members of an ultra-Orthodox group attacked the activists.
Homophobia runs rampant in Russia, and various religious groups, ultra-nationalists, skinheads and other far-right groups oppose efforts to stage the gay pride parade.
Hoodlums attacked the gay-rights activists, and arrests were made. Various media are reporting that about 18 gays-rights activists were detained along with 14 others. The gay-rights activists have since been released, Alekseev said via Facebook.
Choi, who is well-known in the U.S. for his protests against the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, tweeted his arrest. Here are some of his tweets, which take place over the course of about seven hours today:
Right ear ringing, small bleeding, 8 in the Moscow Police squad car including Louis Georges-Tin, Andy Thayer and me. "Glasnost!"
Russian Arrestees: Tim Magomedor (25yo), Alexy Kiselev 27, Elizaveta Nikitina 23, Alexander Shiriaev 24, Andzey Zayziev 25.
Our group was led by Transgender Russian Citizen (male pronoun) Anna Komarova, 29 yrs old.
We are entering Presnensky Police Station 1905, Moscow.
We are here: (gray dot) Right ear ringing small bleeding, 7 in the car including me and Andy Thayer.
Louis Georges-Tin (Intl Day Against Homophobia) sent into isolation after singing Bizet's Toreador.
I am now in isolation for yelling "Discriminatzya!"
There is no greater dignity than standing in solidarity with others against their oppression.
Andy Thayer being questioned now, another arrestee interpreting, but he came from another partition. Possibly from Neo-Nazi group.
An arrestee from the other partition yelled "Fuck you, Faggot!"
Neo-nazi interpreter now interrogating Louis Georges-Tin, threatening him and saying he'll kick his ass when leave
Neo-Nazi "interrogator-arrestee" asking for our address in Moscow. The OMOH detachment laughs after a Russian comment.
The Neo-Nazi interrogator-arrestee was wearing thick silver earring, beard with no mustache, grey sweater and cartoon jungle animal shorts!
Back with other LGBT Activists with Louis. 8 of us in this car, along with what sounds like 5 Neo-Nazis in other partition.
Neo-Nazi also asked who Louis was calling on his phone. Said "this is not your country. Nobody wants to talk to you. Shut the hell up."
Ringing in ear has about disappeared. Activists furiously typing press releases and calling journalists. Nobody called family or lawyer.
Just got my passport back. No reply from US embassy. They stated "we are monitoring the situation" two days ago.
Thank you for your well wishes but we need calls to Hillary Clinton: condemn violation of Russian and Universal rights of expression.
Got off the phone with Gay Russia lead organizer Nikolai Alekseev. Total 15 LGBT Activists under arrest. No US response.
Georges-Tin, Thayer, Choi enter processing and waiting room. We took seats in front of the Neo-Nazis, total 6 of them.
According to my fellow arrestees, the treatment of Russian citizens has been more lenient this time, accompanied by foreigners.
Never thought I'd be in a situation like this: with Activists, French, and Neo-Nazis awaiting Russian judgment.
Our time in jail is typically 3 hours to 15 days. Time starts now.
Neo-nazi said "we don't hate gay people." I said "we like straight people, you make us." Engaging in debate now.
Now he said "actually God Hates Fags is bullshit, because I don't believe in God."
The 6 were arrested for being shirtless. I explained: Ah, Discriminatzya? Perhaps there is a coalition: Gay Pride, Shirtless Pride.
It is strange that they have become very civil now, after shouting "we will kick your ass, fuck you Faggot" earlier.
3 foreigners (Choi Thayer Tin) taken away for booking
Louis-George Tin tells me he is ready to come back next year. His favorite song is "We Shall Overcome."
Louis Georges-Tin released.
It looks like the foreigners are being released but Russians stay overnight.
This has been my favorite Pride March yet.
I wait here for the Russian Activists who are still in jail. They are truly "Protectors of the Free."
18 arrestees all released in record time. It was your RT's and undaunted advocacy. Never stop. Today, Ich Bin Ein wall-tearing Activist.