Gay Activists Protest During G20 Summit
Published: September 11, 2013 (Issue # 1777)
Two dozen LGBT rights activists came to the Fields of Mars on Friday, Sept. 6, the second and final day of the G20 summit, to draw attention to what they see as continued human rights violations in Russia. Despite the more than 100 anti-gay protesters who also came to the site, the police prevented attacks by restraining them at a safe distance behind two OMON riot police cordons and fences.
The protesters, directed by an Orthodox priest dressed in vestments and wearing a cross, sang hymns and threw coins at the LGBT demonstrators. But unlike the St. Petersburg LGBT Pride event, whose participants were attacked, pelted with stones and eggs and eventually arrested when held on the same site on June 29, the authorities allowed the demonstrators to hold their one-hour rally in full.
According to LGBT activist Kirill Kalugin, who filed an application with City Hall to hold the event officially known as a “Call for objective distribution of information regarding the issue of human rights in the Russian Federation,” he was surprised when the authorities allowed the protest to proceed, despite the increased security measures in the city due to the G20 Leaders’ Summit.
The protest was held at 1 p.m., hours before a meeting between U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian human rights activists that included representatives of the LGBT community.
Kalugin, a 21-year-old student at the Polytechnic University, became known for holding a one-man protest on Palace Square during celebrations of Russian Airborne Troops Day on Aug. 2, when he unfolded a rainbow banner reading “This is promotion of tolerance” and was attacked by uniformed veteran paratroopers within seconds. He also held a placard reading “Sodom to every home” during the St. Petersburg LGBT Pride event on June 29.
At the Friday protest, Kalugin, who held placard reading “Politics are Here, Not in Strelna” (the location in south-western St. Petersburg where the G20 summit was held), said the activists wanted to address the international community. They also wanted to counter President Vladimir Putin’s assertion that there was no discrimination of LGBT people in Russia, made during a recent interview with the Associated Press and the Rossiya-1 television channel.
Nikolai Strumentov, an official with the Committee on Law, Order and Security who represented City Hall at the site told Kalugin to put away the placards written in English on the grounds that he (Strumentov) “does not speak English.” The protesters then wrote Russian translations on the back of their posters but after a while turned them again so that the English-language slogans could be seen.
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