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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

Friday, Aug. 22


Get ready to pledge allegiance to the flag during National Flag Day, paying tribute to when, 23 years ago today, the iconic hammer-and-sickle was replaced with the tricolor that now flutters in the wind. Petersburgers will be treated to a free concert on Palace Square, a military parade and a culminating air show featuring Russias Russian Knights stunt pilots.



Saturday, Aug. 23


Uppsala Park plays host to Fairy Noon today, a performance of five separate fairy tales ranging from folk classics to more haunting selections. There will be three different renditions of the tales throughout the day and tickets start at 500 rubles ($13.80) for adults and 300 rubles ($8.30) for children.


Classic Finnish cartoon characters the Moomins expect to receive a warm welcome from Russian fans during todays Moomin Festival at the Pearl Plaza Shopping Center at 51 Petergofskoye Shosse. Become a kid again or introduce a new generation to the beloved creation of Finnish writer Tove Jansson.



Sunday, Aug. 24


The tortured genius of Dutch master Vincent van Gogh gets his day in the centers Konnushnaya Ploschad during Make Art Like Van Gogh, a daylong celebration of the artist that will allow amateur artists to try and replicate the work that made the famed painter world-renowned.


Experience a variety of dances highlighting the diversity of the world around as at the final day of the Ethno-Dance International Dance Festival that has been at the St. Petersburg Humanitarian University of Trade Unions this past week. Tonights performance will feature Egyptian dancers accompanied by local orchestras.



Monday, Aug. 25


Today kicks off the Elena Obraztsovoy International Competition for Young Vocalists in the large hall of the Shostakovich Philharmonic. Talented youngsters will showcase their range over the next six days before a winner is chosen on Aug. 30.



Tuesday, Aug. 26


Love movies but hate all those words? Then check out Rodina Cinema Centers Factor of Consensus film forum this evening. Silent movie classics from the beginning of the 20th century will be screened and accompanied by a pianist, who will provide the soundtrack for the ongoing action. The screenings begin at 7 p.m. Check Rodinas website for more details.



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