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Protesters Left in Peace at Annual LGBT Rally

Published: July 30, 2014 (Issue # 1822)



  • Protesters were forced to stay in a fenced-in area on the Field of Mars.
    Photo: Sergey Chernov / for SPT

  • Kirill Kalugin holds a rainbow flag that was torn during last years rally.
    Photo: Sergey Chernov / for SPT

One activist and one photographer were arrested at the fifth annual St. Petersburg LGBT Pride rally on Saturday, July 26. Nevertheless, the one-hour rally against the discrimination of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in Russia went ahead more peacefully than ever before in the rallys history, neither being attacked by anti-gay crowds nor shut down by the police. It has also been described as the lengthiest protest in the history of the citys LGBT movement.

About 100 people attended the rally, which was held in a small fenced site on the Field of Mars in central St. Petersburg. Under a recent law, the site was designated by City Hall for holding small public assemblies. Dozens of police vehicles and hundreds of the OMON riot police were stationed at and near the fenced site, with officers searching bags and confiscating water and sharp objects as participants entered the site.

In fact, last year, despite an agreement with City Hall, the police shut down the rally and arrested more than 60 activists, who had been earlier pelted with stones, eggs and smoke bombs by some 200 anti-gay protesters. A number of LGBT activists were assaulted and beaten during or after the rally. This year, however, only a handful of anti-gay protesters showed up.

Despite this years event being seen by many as an achievement, there were still some at the rally protesting against the authorities for only allowing the event to be held in a fenced site. Speaking at the rally, activist Kirill Kalugin who held a rainbow flag that had been torn by anti-gay attackers at last years protest said he had the right to express his opinion elsewhere as he was a free man in not a very free country.

Personally, its not necessary to have some date and the Field of Mars to take to the street with a rainbow flag, Kalugin told The St. Petersburg Times this week. I am not going to be guided by the wishes of City Hall or anyone else when I plan a protest, he said.

Theyve created this cell for us, and they dont let us go anywhere else. I understand the organizers, who want to hold a peaceful rally, but they should also understand me when I say that I am getting tired of walking like a flock into this paddock. There has been criticism that I demand respect, while not respecting the police, City Hall, the state, but I dont find it necessary to show respect for those people that dont have any respect for me and pass laws against me in my own country.

If City Hall permits some rally, it means it sees it as safe and not scary, because it controls it. I dont want the state to get into my business and decide for me where I am allowed to stand and where I am not.

Protester Yevgeny Prokopenko was arrested this year after an exchange with police officers, who claimed that his placard reading Sodomy is sweeter than honey violated the national law prohibiting the promotion of non-traditional sexual relations with minors. Prokopenko explained that his placard was a protest against the law and he was then taken to a police vehicle after refusing to put it away.

It was an anti-homophobic message, said Prokopenko. It implied that non-traditional sexual relations were not bad but quite the opposite. I hoped a little that I would be charged with this crime, so that I had an opportunity to confront the law in court because I dont agree with it. Prokopenko was told he would be called when a hearing is appointed.

Photographer Alexei Belozyorov was also detained. Speaking this week to the St. Petersburg Times, he said that a man protested against him taking photographs of the minors without their parents consent. According to Belozyorov, the police held him on the pretext that he had no identification and let him go three hours later without pressing charges.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Oct. 1


The St. Petersburg International Innovation Forum 2014 kicks off today at Lenexpo, where it will be presenting the latest and greatest ideas until Oct. 3. Focusing on economic development and the decisions and measures necessary to encourage development in Russias most important industries, the event is a possibility to discuss the innovations currently available in a variety of fields.


Representatives of the Russian and international media industries arrive in St. Petersburg for the first ever International Media Forum being hosted by the city until Oct. 10. With a variety of events on tap, including workshops, lectures and film screenings, the event plans to reemphasize the citys reputation as the countrys culture capital and as an emerging market and location for the visual arts.



Thursday, Oct. 2


The celebration of the bicentennial of the birth of Mikhail Lermontov continues with todays free exhibition in the citys Lermontov Library at 19 Liteiny Prospekt. Titled Under the Rustling Wings, the temporary exhibition will feature the costumes and scenery used in the 1917 production of Lermontovs play The Masquerade, which he wrote in 1835 when he was only 21 years old.



Friday, Oct. 3


Learn more about how to manage and evaluate employee performance during SPIBAs Human Resources Committee meeting this morning on Employee Assessment: Global and Local Trends. Starting at 9:30 a.m., the discussion will touch on such topics as the partnership between HR and business, reliable assessment strategies and more, with Tatiana Andrianova, the head of the SHL Russia and CIS branch in St. Petersburg, as the featured guest. Confirm your participation by Oct. 2 by emailing office@spiba.ru or calling 325 9091.


AmChams Procurement Committee Meeting is at 9 a.m. this morning in their office in the New St. Isaac Office Center on Ulitsa Yakubovicha.



Saturday, Oct. 4


Wine and cheese lovers will get their chance to revel during Scandinavia Country Club and Spas Wine Market Weekend. Going on today and tomorrow, wining diners can listen to live music, take part in culinary classes and, of course, sample a variety of fine wines from around the world. The cost of admission is 400 rubles ($10.30) for adults and 200 rubles ($5.15) for children.



Sunday, Oct. 5


Look for the latest fall fashions at the Autumn Market today in Freedom Anticafe at 7 Kazanskaya Ulitsa. The minimarket plans to offer clothes more flattering than the puffy jackets that are a staple of the citys cold-weather fashion, while offering the same amount of protection from the biting winds blowing off of the Baltic.



Monday, Oct. 6


SKA St. Petersburg, the citys KHL affiliate, welcomes Slovakian club HC Slovan in a match-up tonight at the Ice Palace near the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. The puck drops at 7:30 p.m. and tickets can be purchased on the clubs website or in person at either the arenas box office or the clubs merchandise store on Nevsky Prospekt.



Tuesday, Oct. 7


Learn more about Russias energy industry at the St. Petersburg Energy Forum that begins today and runs through Oct. 10. Attracting industry experts and political and business representatives, the forum plans to welcome more than 350 plus companies and their representatives to discuss the future of Russias largest economic sector.



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