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Sunday, July 30, 2006

Neo-Soviet Russia Cracks Down on Gays

The Gazette of Canada reports on Neo-Soviet Russia's continuing pogrom against homosexuals:

When 50 gay-rights supporters took to the streets of Moscow in May for the city's first Gay Pride march, they were surrounded by 5,000 angry protesters determined to stop the rally.

There were skinheads and military veterans, elderly women brandishing religious icons, preppies, yuppies, priests and imams, said march participant Andrey Kuvshinov, who was beaten up that day.

More than 50 people were arrested, including 30 marchers detained for taking part in an illegal event.

"There is a strong traditionalist movement in Russia that says old ways are the best way," Kuvshinov said.

"These people say LGBT people are a western creation and have no place in Russia."

As he surveyed the thousands of delegates taking part yesterday in the International Conference of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered Human Rights at the Palais des congres, Kuvshinov could only dream of a time when the LGBT community would be able to show itself freely in Russia.

Repression remains a common problem in the new Russia, as sexual minorities struggle to build alliances. In North America, the LGBT community is closely linked to the labour and women's movements and to mainstream political parties. That doesn't happen in Russia.

"In Russia, we have not be able to align ourselves even with human-rights groups," said Alexander Kukharskiy, president of Krilija, a gay community centre. "We are too marginal."

The repression of gay rights in Russia is part of a broader clampdown on grassroots organizations sparked by official concern about popular movements like Ukraine's Orange Revolution and the groundswell of opposition to Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko, Kuvshinov said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin "is worried about anything that disturbs the status quo," Kuvshinov added.

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