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Coming Out Day Ends in Fights, Arrests

Published: October 17, 2013 (Issue # 1782)



  • An anti-gay demonstrator dressed as a Cossack and surrounded by OMON riot police holds a Russian Orthodox icon.
    Photo: Sergey Chernov / SPT

LGBT rights activists were prevented from holding an authorized Coming Out Day event on Saturday and were harassed and beaten by anti-gay protesters and arrested by the police. Police said a total of 67 people were arrested on both sides during disturbances at the site on the Field of Mars allocated by City Hall for demonstrations. Human rights activists said 86 people were detained.

Despite the massive presence of OMON riot police, about 50 LGBT rights protesters were met by a more than 200-strong anti-gay crowd who blocked the entrance to the site in central St. Petersburg where the rally was due to be held.

The counter-demonstrators, who came to the site in advance of the event, included men wearing priests’ vestments, a group of men in military uniforms presented as “Cossacks,” alleged Airborne Troops veterans in paratroopers berets and striped shirts, skinheads and football fans. Led by nationalist and knife-fighting expert Andrei Kochergin and men wearing Orthodox priest robes, the crowd sang hymns and prayed, and was addressed by speakers who urged them to stop the LGBT rights activists from holding their rally. One speaker said he was representative of Russian nobility from Paris and came to support anti-gay activists in their fight.

At one point the crowd was addressed by Tanai Cholkhanov, a speaker of the Islamic faith, who described LGBT people as “possessed by shaitan” and as people whose “hearts have darkened.” He was hailed by Kochergin, who said that Russian Orthodox and Muslim believers shared the same traditional values.

A man in Orthodox priest clothes said that homosexuals were sick people suffering from a brain disorder, to which Kochergin said they should be cured “with electricity.”

“Punch them in the liver, and the cerebral cortex will be restored,” he said.

Kochergin’s Internet postings revealed that the alleged Cossacks were brought from Moscow by one of the men dressed as priests, Dmitry Nenarokov. In real life, Nenarokov was reported to be a physical education teacher at a Federal Security Service school in Moscow.

Unlike the Sept. 6 protest, held during the G20 summit, police did not fence the site to secure the passage of the activists. As the LGBT rights protesters arrived at around 1:30 p.m., as scheduled, they found the path to the site blocked by anti-gay protesters, some of whom harassed them and told them to leave.

One of the most active anti-gay protesters wore a stylized Swastika around his neck and identified himself as a “Rodnover,” a Slavic neo-paganist. He said he came more than 1,500 kilometers from Krasnodar in the south of Russia to “stop sodomy.”

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Nov. 21


Learn more about Russian labor laws at Labor Law Seminar 2014 at the Courtyard by Marriott St. Petersburg Center West Pushkin Hotel this morning at 166 Kanala Griboyedova. Sponsored by Baker and McKenzie and the Pepeliaev Group, the event begins at 9 a.m. and will discuss amendments to existing laws, employment terms, risks of termination and other pressing matters.


Educate yourself about educational careers at Education and Career XXI — November 2014, a two-day fair hosted at Lenexpo convention center on Vasilievsky Island that welcomes students and educators alike to develop relationships between scholarly institutions and learn more about the educational market in Russia and abroad.



Saturday, Nov. 22


Russian Premier League-leaders Zenit St. Petersburg return from the international break to take on Kuban Krasnodar at Petrovsky Stadium this evening at 7 p.m. Tickets for the game can still be purchased on the club’s website, at the Petrovsky Stadium box office or in any of the club’s merchandise stores.



Sunday, Nov. 23


Get in the holiday spirit at today’s Winter Bazzar at the Astoria Hotel. Featuring gifts from around the world such as French eclairs, Dutch cheeses and Indian jewelry, the annual event organized by the International Women’s Club will feature 18 international stands and raise money for charity through the sales of a diversity of products that further illustrate the city’s international connections.



Monday, Nov. 24


Dr. Axel Schulte, Department Head at Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics in Dortmund, Germany, is the featured speaker at the SPIBA Industrial Committee lecture on “The Fourth Industrial Revolution: Digitalization of the Supply Chain.” The event begins at 4 p.m. at the Graduate School of Management at 3 Volkohvsky Pereulok and registration is required by Nov. 21 either by emailing office@spiba.ru or calling 325 9091.



Tuesday, Nov. 25


Tag along with AmCham during their “Industrial St. Petersburg” Tour program today. This incarnation of the ongoing series will visit Philip Morris Izhora and include an Environmental Health and Safety Committee meeting.


Find out how to expand your business east during the “Business With China” forum beginning today and concluding tomorrow at the Lenexpo convention center. The largest Russian forum dedicated to business with the Asian giant, topics that will be discussed include logistics, customs clearance, trade financing and many more.



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