September 17, 2010

According to UK Gay News, on Wednesday, September 15, Russia's best known gay rights activist, Nikolai Alekseev, was arrested at Moscow's Domodedovo Airport.  Mr. Alekseev was about to board a flight to Geneva and had passed through passport control when he was arrested by Russian border police.  Mr. Alekseev was able to send a message regarding his arrest on his mobile phone before it was confiscated. Authorities did not make his whereabouts known nor admitted to Mr. Alekseev’s arrest, causing concern in the human rights community. 
According to Interfax, he turned up in Minsk on September 16, and plans to return to Moscow for an upcoming protest against the Mayor.

Mr. Alekseev asserts that he was arrested by police in an attempt to force him to withdraw a European Court of Human Rights case disputing bans on gay rights marches in Russia.  After questioning Mr. Alekseev in a town near Domodedovo Airport, police tried to force him to sign a statement withdrawing the case. No official reason was ever given for his detention, however.

On September 14, activists from GayRussia announced that they had applied to stage a picket on September 21 against Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov who has recently been in the news for using the derogatory term “gomiki” or “faggot” in the media. It was decided in a Russian court that the Mayor’s use of the word was not offensive.

For more information from UK Gay News, go to: 
"Russian Gay Activist Arrested at Moscow Airport As He Was About to Board Swiss Air Lines Flight to Geneva"
"MEP on Russia Gay Rights: Alekseev's Arrest Is of 'Deep Concern'"
"Alekseev: 'They Want Me to Withdraw the Complaints to European Court over Moscow Gay Pride'"

For more information from Interfax, go to:

Note: It has also been reported that the day before Mr. Alekseev was arrested several NGOs underwent “surprise checks” of their paperwork.    Some organizations refused to comply, citing errors in the requests, but most groups presented what paperwork they could collect on short notice. It is suspected that the sudden crackdown may be related to upcoming regional and local elections this October, although the prosecutors themselves have given no indication why they issued these checks.

For more information on the surprise checks from The Moscow Times, go to: