2010-09-20 10:57:00

Russian gay community leader Alexeyev to ask for political asylum in Belarus

Moscow, September 20, Interfax - Nikolay Alexeyev, a prominent Russian gay community leader and organizer of gay pride parades in Moscow, has said he intends to ask for political asylum in Belarus.

"I am in Minsk now and intend to ask the Belarusian authorities for political asylum," Alexeyev told Interfax by way of SMS.

He also said he decided to recall all lawsuits from the European Court of Human Rights over bans that the Moscow city administration had imposed on gay pride parades in 2006, 2007, and 2008.

"Because of the pressure being put on me, I have decided to recall my complaints against the Moscow authorities' bans on gay pride parades in 2006, 2007, and 2008 from the European Court," he said.

The European Court is already considering the complaints and is about to hand down its rulings on them, he said.

It was reported earlier that unidentified men and police officers apprehended Alexeyev at Moscow Domodedovo airport before he was to fly to Switzerland on September 15.

Alexeyev said then he had been told to go to a special room on the pretext of searching his baggage more carefully, where he spent several hours. Unidentified men looked for some information on two laptops he had on him and in documents he had in his bags. After that, all contacts with Alexeyev were lost for about 24 hours.

Alexeyev later contacted journalists to say he had been taken to a provincial police station for questioning. "They demanded that I sign prepared papers stating that I recall my appeals regarding gay pride parades from the European Court due to an arrangement," he said via SMS.

He also said he had actually been expelled from Russia and was in Minsk.

Russian sex minorities have regularly attempted to hold a gay pride parade in the center of Moscow but have always been denied this opportunity.