MOSCOW — A Moscow dance club popular with the LGBT community suffered its second attack in as many weeks when unknown assailants late Saturday night released an as yet identified noxious gas inside the main portion of the club.
There were approximately 500 patrons inside Central Station at the time of attack, according to a spokesperson for the Moscow Militia (police).
According to the club’s general manager, Andrew Leszczynski, staff immediately turned on a smoke removal machine, which eliminated the gas from the premises in a couple of minutes. Several people sought medical attention from first responders, but refused hospitalization.
“Today is another provocation against our club arranged by unknown persons. We believe that they are connected with the building owner,” said Leszczynski. “They are spaying the gas inside the club premises, thereby trying to express their extremist views against LGBT community, which likes to visit our club.”
The club, located in Moscow’s Basmanny District in center city not far from the Kremlin, was the scene of a previous attack on November 16 when two gunman opened fire outside of the club’s main entrance after its security personnel denied them entry.
No injuries were reported in that attack, which left the club’s door damaged from the gunfire. The pair fled, but the attack was caught on the club’s video surveillance footage.
A member of the club’s staff – who asked to not be identified – told LGBTQ Nation on Monday that the club, which opened in 2003, has been under “seemingly increasing siege” since the passage of the anti-gay propaganda law in June.
According to Leszczynski, the building was previously owned by state-run monopoly, Russia Railways, headed by Vladimir Ivanovich Yakunin — a close political ally and an appointee of Russian president Vladimir Putin — but transferred ownership last December.
The building is now held by an investment holding company Verdivino Investments Ltd., incorporated in Nicosia, the Republic of Cyprus. He said that in October, the investment company had posted two oversize signs with arrows pointing to the main doorway of the club that read “gay club entrance.”
Article continues belowLeszczynski says that the club, which is owned and affiliated with a St. Petersburg venue, has asked Moscow Militia officials for stepped up assistance and protection.
Attacks against LGBT Russians in the capital and across the nation are on the rise, and gay rights activists blame the recently enacted law.
A Militia official acknowledged to LGBTQ Nation on Monday that police are still pursuing suspects in another attack last month against another LGBT venue, 7freedays Club, where 20 masked attackers brandished handguns and beat club goers with beer and wine bottles.
RIA Novosti reported that three people were hospitalized for the injuries they sustained in the 7freedays club attack.