2013-10-14 10:09:00

Police detain 67 LGBT activists at rally in central St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg, October 14, Interfax - Police detained 67 people at a lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender (LGBT) rally on Campus Martius in central St. Petersburg on Saturday, the city police authority told Interfax.

The rally in defense of LGBT rights was planned for 2 p.m., but people started to gather long before this time.

About 20 Cossacks and Orthodox activists were among the first to appear at the scene to oppose the rally.

Young men wearing clothes with symbols of nationalistic organizations appeared there some time later.

A lot of police were deployed near Campus Martius as well.

The rally organizers said on Friday that the city authorities had been informed about the event and were supposed to ensure its participants' security.

When about a dozen LGBT activists appeared near Campus Martius, their opponents met them with religious hymns and blocked the passage toward the venue of the planned rally.

Activists made several attempts to proceed toward the center of Campus Martius but were opposed by Cossacks and nationalists, which grew into brawls. After that, police started detaining the most active participants in the clashes.

The previous such action on Campus Martius took place on September 6. Witnesses said about 20 LGBT supporters then gathered to express their protest against the violation of sexual minorities' rights.

The activists unfolded rainbow flags and held banners in Russian and English, some of them saying, 'Stop Homophobia in Russia,' 'Thanks for Solidarity', 'Injustice Anywhere Is a Threat to Injustice Everywhere,' and others.

About 50 Orthodox activists led by a priest were reading prayers and threw coins at the LGBT community defenders, which, in their words, symbolized their venality.

At the end of the rally, police escorted LGBT defenders to a bus.