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Gay activists target Russia’s President in European lawsuit

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Organisers of Moscow’s Pride event are taking their case to the European Court of Human Rights after the repeated bans on the event. Their latest action includes the President of Russia.

They claimed that Dmitriy Medvedev’s failure to answer a letter sent to him in May asking him to intervene broke a law that guarantees citizens a response within 30 days.

In June a judge at Tverskoi District Court referred to a number of articles in the Russian Constitution including Article 91, which states that the President has immunity from any legal actions, in dismissing their claim.

Moscow Pride organisers were denied permission for a series of marches in May by the city authorities.

They appealed to the President to allow a march to take place in Alexander’s Gardens (Alexandrovsky Sad) located between the Kremlin and Manezhnaya Street, which is under the authority of the President, on 31st May.

Organisers took their case to court on the 23rd June when they received no reply after 30 days.

“It’s a pity that the President, even though he proclaimed that he would fight for human rights, did not interfere and put an end to the unlawful actions of Moscow officials,” said activist Nicolas Alexeyev.

A group of 30 gay activists managed to stage short protests in front of Moscow City Hall and a statue of Tchaikovsky on June 1st without being arrested.

There followed a farcical game of cat and mouse as police surrounded an apartment where four activists were eventually arrested after hours of siege.

They were held overnight and charged with taking part in an unauthorised demonstration and failing to obey police orders.

The short demonstrations were planned in order to take the authorities by surprise.

The Mayor of Moscow has called gay rights activists “Satanic” and banned Pride in 2006 and 2007.

Pride organisers had applied for permission to hold five marches a day, every day of May.

All were rejected by Moscow municipal authorities on the grounds they would “endanger public order and cause negative reaction of the majority of the population.”

This year they are planning to hold Pride at the same time as the Eurovision Song Contest final in Moscow.

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