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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.

Kochergins 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

Wednesday, Sept. 3


Although the Peter and Paul Fortress sand sculptures are more central and therefore more visible to the throngs of tourists, the 300th Anniversary Park of St. Petersburgs own collection closes today. The World Collection of Sand Sculptures that have been on display at the park reaches its final day, so fans of the classic beach activity should get there while they can.



Thursday, Sept. 4


Vladimir I. Danchenkov, Head of Baltic Customs, will be in attendance during AmChams Customs and Transportation Committee Meeting convening this afternoon at the organizations office near St. Isaacs Square at 3 p.m.



Friday, Sept. 5


Scrabble lovers and chess masters get their chance to assert their intellectual dominance at the return of the British Book Centers Board Game Evenings tonight. Held weekly on Friday nights, the event gives both board game lovers and those hoping to improve their English the chance to meet, greet and compete. Check out the centers VK page for more details.



Saturday, Sept. 6


Athletes will relish the chance to get the latest gear and try out something new at I Choose Sport, an annual event at Lenexpo forum that plans to welcome more than 30,000 people this week to the international exhibition center. Not only will visitors get to try their hand at various athletic endeavors but they will also be able to peruse equipment that can fulfill their dreams of becoming a champion.


Local KHL team SKA St. Petersburg open their season this evening at home against Lokomotiv Yarovslavl at the Ice Palace arena next to the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. See their website for a full schedule and available tickets.



Sunday, Sept. 7


Check out retro and antique cars at Fort Konstantin on Kronstadt Island in the Gulf of Finland at FORTuna, a yearly car festival that highlights the eccentricities of the Soviet automobile industry. A car race, contests and a stunt show will give visitors a chance to rev their engines.



Monday, Sept. 8


This evening marks the opening of the two-week ballet festival High Season at the Mikhailovsky Theater. Check the theaters website for more details about performances and featured dancers.



Tuesday, Sept. 9


Discuss the latest news and issues at the AmCham Hazardous Waste Management Roundtable this morning in the Tango Conference Hall of the Sokos Hotel Palace Bridge on Birzhevoy Pereulok. Starting at 9 a.m., planned topics include the Krasny Bor landfill and waste transportation between Russia and Finland.


Learn more about the citys modern architectural trends at the SPIBA Real Estate and Construction Committees meeting on the topic Contemporary Petersburg Style: What is It? Participants will get the chance to discuss whats in-demand with RBI Holdings Irina Petrova and Lubava Pryanikova, and the current state of the local real estate market. Please confirm your attendance by Sept. 5 through SPIBAs website if you wish to attend.



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