Nikolay Alexeyev - Activities - Fight For Gay Rights in Russia and Belarus

Fight For Gay Rights in Russia and Belarus

July 2005 can be seen as the starting point of Nikolay Alexeyev's campaign for Freedom of Assembly of gays and lesbians in Russia.

The plans to hold a Gay Pride in Moscow in May 2006 was first revealed by Nikolay Alexeyev during a joint press conference with Evgenia Debryanskaya, dedicated to the condemnation of the execution of gay minors in Iran. It took place on 28 July 2005 in Moscow at the press center of the National Information Group (NewsInfo). Nikolay Alexeyev answered a question from a journalist from the Russian news agency Interfax who asked "And what the gay community is planning in Russia?" Nikolay Alexeyev revealed the plans for the first Gay Pride in Moscow. Within an hour the news spread in Russian and foreign media.

The same day some Russian gay activists condemned the initiative, calling it a "provocation of officials" which was worked out after Nikolay Alexeyev's visit to the Administration of the Russian President.

The day after the press conference, on 29 July 2005, Interfax contacted the Mayor of Moscow and asked him if he would allow such event in his city. Yuri Luzhkov did not measure the consequences which his answer would create saying that he had not received any application but should he gets one he would dismiss it. He added that he "stands on the protection of the interests of Moscovites and they categorically would not support such an initiative".

Ever since the announcement of Moscow Pride initiative Nikolay Alexeyev expressed his readiness to appeal all possible bans of such events by Moscow Mayor in the European Court of Human Rights. Moreover since that time the creation of media interest around Moscow Pride became strategy of Nikolay Alexeyev which he wanted to use in order to attract maximum attention to the LGBT rights in Russia. The activist suggested that prior to the Moscow Pride initiative Russian media showed gays and lesbians mostly in a negative way.

Uncompromising fight for the conduct of Moscow Pride through banned public manifestations and rigorous legal work based on court appeals against all bans of LGBT public events up to European Court of Human Rights helped to elevate Nikolay Alexeyev to the position of an informal leader of Russian LGBT community, the way he is frequently called by Russian and foreign media.

For five years Nikolay Alexeyev was the applicant of all public events of Moscow Prides as well as several other public LGBT manifestations in Moscow, Ryazan and Tambov. He was only once allowed by the authorities to demonstrate.

Nikolay Alexeyev is one of the main ideological opponents of former Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, who called gay parades "satanic gatherings" and the participants of such events as "faggots". He also called gays weapons of mass disraction of the West and persons, responsible for the HIV epidemic in Moscow.

In February 2007, at the end of the press conference of the summit of London, Paris, Berlin, Moscow and Beijing Mayors at London City Hall Nikolay Alexeyev unveiled Moscow Pride flag at the back of Yuri Luzhkov while he was giving an interview to the first channel of Russian TV. Mayor's press secretary Sergey Tsoi tried to pull it out but without success. One of the Russian leading daily newspapers "Kommersant" wrote ironically after the incident in London that "Sergey Tsoi tried to take over the gay movement flag from Nikolay Alexeyev". The activist asked Scotland Yard to initiate criminal proceedings against Sergey Tsoi but the case was never opened. Mayors' meeting in London in 2007 was their last official summit.

In November 2008, Nikolay Alexeyev and three other activists of Moscow Pride travelled to Belarus and hosted a seminar with a group of Belarusian gay and lesbian activists in Minsk. The activists agreed to join efforts and launch the Slavic Pride movement. Nikolay Alexeyev offered his assistance to Belarusian activists to help raising the awareness about their struggle outside Belarus. Since then he is working with the group Gaybelarus.by and its leader Sergey Androsenko.

In February 2009 Nikolay Alexeyev invited Sergey Androsenko (Siarhei Androsenka), the leader of Gaybelarus.by to join him and other Russian activists in a tour of European institutions (European Parliament and the European Commission on 12 February, Press Conference in Luxembourg with MP Jean Huss on 13 February, Council of Europe in Strasbourg on 14 February, and United Nations in Geneva on 16–17 February). They also took part in two manifestations in Strasbourg and Geneva trying to attract attention to the violations of the right to freedom of assembly in Russia and Belarus.

On 16 May 2009 the first joint Russian-Belarusian Slavic Pride took place in Moscow. City authorities denied permission for the event and police forces violently dispersed the participants of the manifestation at Vorobyevy Hills. Second Slavic Pride took place in Minsk on 15 May 2010. City authories also denied permission for the march arresting eight participants in unsanctioned rally. Third Slavic Pride is planned to take place in St. Petersburg on 25 June 2011.

During his life in activism Nikolay Alexeyev was six times arrested by police for the organisation and participation in unsanctioned public events in Moscow: on 27 May 2006 next to the gates of Alexandrovsky Garden during first Moscow Pride, on 27 May 2007 next to Moscow City Hall during second Moscow Pride, on 2 December 2007 at the polling station where Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov was planning to vote in parliamentary elections, on 16 May 2009 during forth Moscow Pride, on 21 September next to Moscow City Hall demanding the resignation of Moscow Mayor on his birthday and on 12 October next to Moscow City Hall while participation in the so called Day of fury.

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