MOSCOW — As tens of thousands of protesters braved sub zero temperatures across the Russian Federation last week to protest against the alleged election fraud and corruption by the Putin led government, demanding more freedom and democracy, leading Russian LGBTQ activists claimed that the opposition movement leadership excluded them.
In St Petersburg, Igor Kochetkov, Chairperson of the Vyhod LGBT Organization and the Russian LGBT-Network, was prevented by the opposition movement from speaking at the demonstration panel, according to reports by Kochetkov via his twitter account, later confirmed by Nikolai Alekseev, Chairperson and founder of Gay Russia and Moscow Pride.
Kochetkov was part of the St Petersburg’s organizing committee of the demonstration and was due to give a speech when he was told minutes before attempting to go on stage that the opposition, “is not supporting your movement and you won’t be allowed to speak.”
In Novasibersik, Russia’s fourth largest city, a protestor holding a rainbow flag was attacked by ultra right wing Russian Nationalists who tore the flag from his hand. In the city of Lipetsk a group of LGBT activists attempting to participate with a banner reading “gays and lesbians for fair elections” were intercepted by the police and told that their slogan is not “in accordance” with the aim of this event and prohibited from using it further.
Alekseev told LGBTQ Nation he was denied permission from speaking publicly in the initial demonstration of the opposition movement held Dec. 10 in Moscow. Alekseev also said that a lesbian speaker named Nadezhda Tolokno was jeered off the panel by Nationalists participants who attempted to attack her physically.
According to a source at the media outlet Russia Today, in a telephone conference call leaked to the press between Boris Nemtsov, leader of the Russian opposition movement and other high ranking anti-government protest organizers, Nemtsov, referred to her as “that dyke whore” adding that the “Nazis, rejects her!”
Nemtsov used homophobic remarks, saying that ‘faggots’ are all AIDS infected, and gays are Nazi swine, according to the source.
“I find it completely outrageous that the incidents happened during the opposition rallies and then not a single high ranking organizer of these events denounced these attacks and harassment of LGBT people,” Alekseev said, adding that organizers should be happy with the participation of the Russian LGBT community. “They should help and create a secure participation and atmosphere for LGBT people in such demonstrations.”
“I agree that the elections were not fair and new elections should be held. At the same time Gay Russia, the Organizing Committee of Moscow Pride and myself have decided that we are not going to officially endorse such demonstrations because the people who are organizing them are not any better than the current Russian government with regards to LGBT Rights,” said Alekseev.
Peter Tatchell, a leading LGBTQ activist in Europe with deep ties to Russia‘s nascent LGBTQ activist community, told LGBTQ Nation that “the censorship and ejection of LGBT campaigners from the democracy demonstrations is shameful.”
“It shows that many of the so-called democracy leaders are not committed to universal human rights. They are Putin-lite. They want to moderate the Kremlin regime, rather than change it. If they came to power, LGBT Russians would gain little,” said Tatchell.