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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

Wednesday, Jan. 28



Feel like becoming a publishing mogul? Stop by the Freedom anti-cafe at 7 Ulitsa Kazanskaya today at 8 p.m. where Simferopol, Crimea-based founder and chief editor of the Holst online magazine will talk about creating an internet magaine, including what stories to cover, how find an audience and build a team, where to find inspiration and how to stand out from the crowd. Admission is the normal price of the anti-café — 2 rubles per minute, which includes tea and snacks.



Learn everything you always wanted to know about wine, and perhaps a bit more, at the Le Nez du Vin seminar for wine lovers. Held at the WineJet Sommelier School, 100 Bolshoy Prospekt Petrograd Side, at 7:30 p.m., the event will cover wine production, the basics of wine tasting, the concept of terroir and the various countries where wine is produced. Tickets are 750 rubles and include a wine tasting. Register by calling +7 921 744 6264.



Thursday, Jan. 29



Attend a master class on how to deal with complicated business negotiations today at the International Banking Institute, 6 Malaya Sadovaya Ulitsa. Running from 3 to 6 p.m., Vadim Sokolov, an assistant professor at the St. Petersburg State University of Economics, will introduce aspects of managing the negotiation process and increasing its effectiveness. Attendance is free with pre-registration by telephone on 909 3056 or online at www.ibispb.ru



Celebrate what would be writer Anton Chekhov's 155th birthday at the Bokvoed bookshop at 46 Nevsky Prospekt. Starting at 5 p.m., the legendary author will be feted with readings of his stories and short performances based on his plays by various St. Petersburg actors. Chekhov's books will also be offered at a 15% discount during the event.



Friday, Jan. 30



The Lermontov Central Library, 19 Liteyny Prospekt, will screen 'Almost Famous’ in English with Russian subtitles at 6:30 p.m. Cameron Crowe's Academy Award-winning comedy from 2000 stars Billy Crudup, Kate Hudson, and Patrick Fugit, and tells the story of a budding music journalist at Rolling Stone magazine in the 1970s. Admission is free.



Meet renowned Russian poet, journalist and writer Dmitry Bykov, famous for his biographies of Boris Pasternak, Bulat Okudzhava and Maxim Gorky, and winner of 2006 National Bestseller Award. Bykov will read old and new poems as well as answer questions about his works at the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Main Hall, at 7 p.m. Tickets start at 1,000 rubles and are available at city ticket offices and the from the Philharmonic website www.philharmonia.spb.ru.



A retrospective of the films of Roman Polanski starts today at Loft-Project Etagi, 74 Ligovsky Prospekt, with a screening of ‘Repulsion’ at 7 p.m. and ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ at 9:15 p.m. The series runs through Feb. 4 and will include Polanski's eminently creepy ‘The Tenant,’ the cult comedy ‘The Fearless Vampire Killers’ and ‘Cul-de-sac’ among others. Tickets are 150-200 rubles and the complete schedule is available at www.vk.com/artpokaz/



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