Russian media is reporting that two men
were arrested during a raid on a Moscow gay bar Friday.
The men were arrested when they
attempted to enter Club Body & Soul, also known as Club Chance,
as officials investigated the premises.
An assortment of police, drug agents,
prosecutors, and media led by former media tycoon Oleg Mitvol, the
prefect of the northern administrative district of Moscow, stormed
the huge dance venue as it was set to open. The club, located far
from the city center, opens at 11PM.
Mitvol's intentions to raid the bar
were widely reported days before it happened. On July 31, a Friday,
during a press event, Mitvol said he would target the venue for
closure due to residential complaints his office had fielded.
“I think that such clubs which, in
line with casinos, lead to moral degradation of citizens and become
the source of trouble should be closed,” Mitvol said, GayRussia.ru
“The building, which belongs to the
Society of Blind People, can be used in a more dignified way,” he
Officials said they were searching for
signs of prostitution and drug use in the mammoth gay club that can
hold as many as 3,000 people. Club Body & Soul opened its doors
in 2002 and offers two dance floors, live entertainment, billiards
and Internet access.
Gay activists in the country believe
the raid was politically motivated. Media accompanying Mitvol
reported that he told them that the club was being protected by
members of the Communist Party.
“... the Duma deputy of the Communist
Party is protecting the interests of this club. Is it moral?,” he
An arrangement for protection is often
necessary and commonplace for a large business to avoid police
harassment and dodge administrative hurdles in Moscow, the paper
Gay activist Nikolai Alekseev was not
convinced such an arrangement was possible in a city where its mayor,
Yuri Luzhkov, and police chief, Vladimir Pronin, openly condemn being
gay and advocate against gay and lesbian rights.
“If it is confirmed I would find
rather surprising that communists, who criminalize male homosexuality
and openly spoke against gay rights and gay prides since 2005 in
Russia, need to earn money on gays,” Alekseev told GayRussia.ru.
Mitvol is rumored to be a district
candidate to lead Vladimir Putin's United Russia Party list in
October's Moscow Parliament elections.