Russia: Gay pride suspicion stops nationalist jog

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Police in the Kaliningrad outpost of Russia have reportedly stopped a group of right-wing joggers after being wrongly tipped that they were staging an illegal gay pride parade.

Ria Novosti reported yesterday that more than twenty right-wing joggers took to the streets of Sovetsk, a small town in the Baltic exclave, carrying Romanov flags of black, yellow and white emblazoned with the words “Russians choose sport.”

An anonymous phone tip-off apparently alerted police to an unsanctioned gay pride march.

The group was released when the nationalist organiser assured officers they were not rallying, but gathering for a sporting event.

Last year, Peter Tatchell reported from Moscow Pride on the series of arrests made on the day and allegations of collusion between police and neo-Nazis.

A month later, Russian police were reported to have arrested 14 gay rights campaigners at a St Petersburg rally.

Russian nationalists have used sporting events to promote patriotism and health in the past, but unsanctioned events are often disbanded by authorities.

Nationalism in modern-day Russia is associated with neo-fascism and the term itself is sometimes used in a pejorative way by political figures.

Peter Tatchell told nationalists were among the mobs who attacked Moscow’s attempted Pride events.

Mr Tatchell pointed out there was no indication the Sovetsk group, which is located in the Kaliningrad Oblast between Poland and Lithuania and shares no borders with Russia, was involved in those attacks.

He said: “I was one of the many LGBT activists who were assaulted by [nationalists] in 2006 and 2007. They are viciously macho and anti-gay.

“Their chauvinistic agenda is to purge Russia of people they see as undesirables, including LGBT people, ethnic minorities and liberal intellectuals. They want the restoration of Russia as a great imperial power.