St. Petersburg LGBT Activist Detained After Solo Protest
Kalugin’s protest was stopped by police who were already on site only seconds after it had begun.
Published: August 6, 2014 (Issue # 1823)
LGBT rights activist Kirill Kalugin was detained on Palace Square within seconds on Aug. 2 after he attempted to hold a LGBT rights and anti-war one-man protest timed with the Russian Airborne Troops Day.
Kalugin unfolded a rainbow flag with an inscription saying “My freedom protects yours” and held it for about 10 seconds before he was assaulted by an anti-gay protester, who tried to take away his flag, while at the same time being seized from the other side by the police, who had apparently been stationed on the site to prevent his protest.
According to the law, police must show identification and give reasons for any arrest. However, according to onlookers, they took Kalugin into a police vehicle and ignored his demands that they show him their identification or explain their actions. As the police remained silent, they also tried to prevent him from showing his protest flag to the media present.
The anti-gay protester who assaulted Kalugin introduced himself to onlookers as Timur Isayev from the “Islamic” NGO Deistviye (Action). He was not detained by the police and instead gave a brief interview to the media present on scene, describing St. Petersburg as “hell for homosexuals.”
Isayev then headed to the police station where Kalugin was taken and filed a formal report against him, accusing him of violating the law prohibiting the “promotion of non-traditional sexual relations to minors.”
At the time of printing, it is unknown if any legal action against Kalugin will follow.
Isayev is notorious for his homophobic messages on the Internet, where he describes himself as a “colonel of the first moral front,” and his attempts to have a high school teacher fired over her participation in an LGBT rights rally in 2013.
Kalugin was released three hours later without any charges being pressed. Speaking to The St. Petersburg Times this week, he said his detention was illegal because a one-man protest does not require any prior authorization by the Russian law.
“[The police officers] did not introduce themselves or present any grounds [for the detention]: they took me by the arms and first tried to put me in a car, but then brought a police van and put me into the back section,” Kalugin said.
Kalugin said the police took his formal explanation of what happened. “It’s a standard procedure; when they detain people for nothing, they must create some document,” he said. According to Kalugin, he was approached by officers from the counter-extremism Center “E” police force while held at the police station. “They tried to have a conversation with me, but I refused to talk to them, so they soon left,” he said. “The only thing they did was confiscate the flag.”
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