Moscow Police Chief Vladimir Pronin is
allegedly spying on gay and lesbian groups via various electronic
media, reports the Moscow-based website Gay Russia
The website has published quotes from a
letter it claims was written by Pronin, where he asserts that
officials are “monitoring” gay and lesbian groups. The letter,
dated April 30, 2007, was addressed to Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov.
“Units of GUVD [police] in Moscow are
constantly controlling mass public actions in the city, monitoring
media and Internet with the aim to take measures of preventive
character and non-admission of illegal actions on the part of
representatives of sexual minorities.”
The letter is being published just
weeks before a contentious gay pride parade is scheduled to take
Luzhkov has as much as warned gay pride
organizers not to stage their May 16 gay pride and march celebration
planned to coincide with the finale of the Eurovision song contest to
be held in Moscow.
He made his threat at a December press
event for Eurovision.
“Sexual minorities, they are free,”
Luzhkov told the press. “We do not allow gay parades ... Entertain
yourself, no problem, but not on the streets, squares, marches and
demonstrations. We never introduced any limitations in their [gay
and lesbians] respect except public actions.”
Luzhkov shocked the
world when just days after World AIDS Day he linked the gay rights
movement to the spread of HIV.
have banned, and will ban, the propaganda of sexual minorities'
opinions because they can be one of the factors in the spread of HIV
infection,” the mayor said at a December 4, 2008 conference in
Moscow titled HIV/AIDS in Developed Countries.
The mayor is not issuing empty threats;
he has denied gay activists a march license since 2006.
Last June, a small
group of protesters led by gay rights leader Nikolai Alexeyev
(sometimes spelled Alekseev) held pride flags and banners outside the
famed Tchaikovsky music conservatory, in defiance of Luzhkov's ban of
the event. They chanted, “No to homophobia,” and “Tchaikovsky
was gay.” A second demonstration was held at a building in front
of Moscow City Hall where a banner was hung reading “Rights For
Gays and Lesbians – homophobia of Mayor Luzhkov to be prosecuted.”
Both events lasted only minutes before the police arrived.
Four gay activists
were arrested after they had fled the demonstration. Witnesses at
the scene told ukgaynews.org.uk that the police forced their way into
an apartment where they had barricaded themselves by breaking down
the door. The four members were held in custody overnight and
charged with “taking part in an unsanctioned demonstration and for
not obeying an order from the police.”
Last Friday, Pronin
waded into the debate when the told the Interfax news agency that gay
pride parades were “unacceptable.”
unacceptable – gay pride parades shouldn't be allowed.”
agree with the Church, with the Patriarch, politicians, especially
with [Mayor] Luzhkov, who are convinced that man and woman should
love each other. It is established by God and nature,” he said.
activists insist gay pride will take place on May 16, despite those
threats from the mayor and police chief.
“Gay pride public
action during the final of Eurovision will take place in any
circumstances,” Alexeyev told gayrussia.ru. “We are not going to
surrender our right to freedom of assembly and expression because it
is given to us not by Mayor Luzhkov, but by the Constitution of this