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Abrupt End for Approved Gay Rally

Published: May 22, 2013 (Issue # 1760)



  • Two demonstrators at last week’s Rainbow Flashmob, which was shut down by City Hall 13 minutes after it began.
    Photo: Sergey Chernov / SPT

St. Petersburg authorities abruptly ended a previously authorized LGBT protest rally against homophobia and transphobia — described as Russia’s largest in the past few years — for alleged security reasons on Friday.

Called Rainbow Flashmob, the protest was organized by LGBT organization Vykhod (Coming Out) and the Alliance of Straights for LGBT Equality and drew an estimated 200 participants. A similar number of anti-LGBT counterdemonstrators, many of whom acted aggressively and shouted insults and threats, also attended.

Soon after demonstrators arrived at the small site designated on the Fields of Mars, which was enclosed by metal fencing, they were pelted with smoke bombs and stones.

Officers from the OMON riot police, who were present in large numbers, rushed in and formed a line between the two groups while a City Hall official on site presented the organizers with written orders to end the rally, scheduled to be held from 2 p.m. to 2:50 p.m. At 2:13 p.m., the rally was stopped due to “immediate threat to the life and health of citizens.”

According to Olga Lenkova, the press officer for Coming Out, the orders had been printed in advance, but the time “2:13” was written in pen on site.

Lenkova believes the police presence on the site was large enough to prevent any violence and let the rally continue.

“I think the police could have driven back the counterdemonstrators, they have forces to do that, but apparently they were unwilling to,” she said by phone Monday.

The counterdemonstrators, consisting mainly of militant nationalists and Orthodox radicals, included Vitaly Milonov, the Legislative Assembly’s United Russia deputy responsible for the local law banning “gay propaganda.”

Milonov, who showed up at the event with his wife and young daughter, held a poster showing a face of an alleged sex criminal. A dozen other anti-LGBT demonstrators who stood next to him held similar posters with at least one of the party holding an icon.

Lenkova said that the anti-LGBT group also included Orthodox activist Gleb Likhotkin, now on trial for discharging a gas weapon in the face of a Rainbow Flashmob participant last year, and militant nationalist Dmitry Deineko, charged for attacking LGBT activists after St. Petersburg’s anti-Putin rally on June 12, 2012.

According to Lenkova, one young woman was hit in the head with a stone, another woman was punched and one man was pushed with force when entering the bus following the protest.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Sunday, Nov. 23


Get in the holiday spirit at today’s Winter Bazzar at the Astoria Hotel. Featuring gifts from around the world such as French eclairs, Dutch cheeses and Indian jewelry, the annual event organized by the International Women’s Club will feature 18 international stands and raise money for charity through the sales of a diversity of products that further illustrate the city’s international connections.



Monday, Nov. 24


Dr. Axel Schulte, Department Head at Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics in Dortmund, Germany, is the featured speaker at the SPIBA Industrial Committee lecture on “The Fourth Industrial Revolution: Digitalization of the Supply Chain.” The event begins at 4 p.m. at the Graduate School of Management at 3 Volkohvsky Pereulok and registration is required by Nov. 21 either by emailing office@spiba.ru or calling 325 9091.



Tuesday, Nov. 25


Tag along with AmCham during their “Industrial St. Petersburg” Tour program today. This incarnation of the ongoing series will visit Philip Morris Izhora and include an Environmental Health and Safety Committee meeting.


Find out how to expand your business east during the “Business With China” forum beginning today and concluding tomorrow at the Lenexpo convention center. The largest Russian forum dedicated to business with the Asian giant, topics that will be discussed include logistics, customs clearance, trade financing and many more.



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