A diary of Russian political activist

Friday 1 June 2007

May, 27 - the second Moscow gay-pride or the peculiarities of Russian hospitality

I took part in the Moscow gay-pride as an observer. My aim was to note all the cases of injustice and violation of human rights and to try to prevent the violations without being arrested. It was my debut in this role and I can't say whether my work was as effective and useful as it could be. Anyway I did all my best.

At 12 noon we received information about the first people arrested just behind the building of Moscow Mayor's office. My husband Sergey and I moved to the police department 'Tverskoe'. After our arrival we needed some time to think over our further activities. So we called one of our friends who had been arrested at the demonstration and asked him to tell us about the situation inside the police department. When we got confidence that the activists are treated correctly we decided to buy water and try to penetrate into the police department where we could render activists legal support. But one small obstacle changed our plans. We saw a special car for hardened criminals arriving to the police department and decided to wait a minute. How surprised we were when Marco Cappato (MEP) and Ottavio Marzocchi (an official of European Parliament) went out of that car! My first reaction was to ask them call me to the police department as their translator. This idea seamed to be a successful one. In two minutes I entered the building and nobody managed to throw me away. Soon Sergey carried us some water. So I found myself in a lovely company of arrested lgbt-activists, a couple of human rights activists and famous politicians.

The rest of the day I felt myself a heroine of a strange and exciting quest. I played a role of translator for Marco and Ottavio and tried to give some legal support to them. It was extremely difficult because I had almost no chance to speak English for about five years - from the time I graduated school. But in spite of all the difficulties I could explain the right strategy of behavior in Russian police departmenets and we managed to receive the copies of protocols and the copy of decision of the police. I was not surprised when the policemen told us, that Marco and Ottavio were accused in crossing the street in a wrong place. I had no illusions about our police. But suddenly repressions against the participants of Moscow gay-pride became a part of Russian foreign policy, so we got a unique opportunity to write such a claim on the actions of Moscow police which the authorities won't be able to suppress. In fact we got a chance to make our police or our officials answer for their infinite lawlessness. And it was a real fortune.

When we got out of the department we learned that the arrested activists are accused in non-obedience to legal requirements of policemen, so they could receive up to 15 days in a jail and had to spend in the police department at least one night before their cases would be listened at the court. We decided to buy some food for the activists but in a few minutes we found out that it was impossible to reach any shop. Just at that time a large group of nationalists, neo-fascists and Orthodox Christians gathered in front of the police department. They pulled eggs in us, an Orthodox priest even tried to beat one of our activists. Besides these people followed anyone who tried to make several steps left or right from the police department in order to beat him. For the first time in my life I met with such hatred face to face. It was really frightening. I felt myself helpless and could do nothing with it: I knew that these people could not only beat but kill us without any hesitation. Here are their faces, the faces of Russia, those an ordinary tourist will never see. They really consider themselves to be the future of Russia:

(The photo was made by one of the guys who followed us. I have found it in his blog, where he boasted of the fights against lgbt-activists.)

We were standing near the police department without any ideas of what to do for about half an hour when the deputy of Russian State Duma Alexei Mitrofanov arrived. He understood the situation quickly and proposed us his personal cars to go away in safety. This proposal sounded very attractive, but we decided to leave the police department without any help all together.

We walked for about 50 metres when we noticed that these guys were following us. The distance between us shortened and shortened and I began to regret that we didn't follow the advice of Mitrofanov. Finally we reached Tverskaya street where we took three cars and gone away under supervision of a policeman.

The next morning I arrived to the court where the cases of Serge Konstantinov, Nikolai Alexeev and Nikolai Khramov should be listened. This trial was the funniest one in my life. All formalities were kept, all the participants of this listening were serious or trying to look serious. Nevertheless one could observe a very thrilling show. The situation itself made the judge crazy. According to the source which I can't name right now, before the beginning of the listening she received an order to give administrative arrest at least to Alexeev. But what could she do, when the witnesses were famous European politicians: Marco Cappato, Ottavio Marzocchi and Volker Bek (a deputy of Bundestag)? She tried to move the listening to another day because there were no translators. But the deputy of the State Duma Mitrofanov asked the permission to be a translator and she had no reasons to refuse him. Observing the changes in the voice of the judge, seeing her completely at a loss I got the greatest aesthetic pleasure in this year. No decision was brought up that day but now I am absolutely calm. I know that all the activists won't be imprisoned. Our authorities would never risk their reputation so much. This judge will never risk so much her career.

Finally as I told nothing about the very pride I'd like to put here a collection of links on different videos, so that one can see it by his own eyes. IMHO, these sequences need no comments: