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Dec 02, 2007 News: Russian Gay Activists Arrested at Polling Station
By Sven Rabatzky

(Russia) - Nikolai Alekseev and 12 fellow Gays and Lesbians have been arrested this morning at 10am in Moscow while they attempted to vote at the "District Electoral Commission N° 165". They came to the place at 9.30 am. Yuri Luzhkov, mayor of Moscow who banned the last 2 gays prides, was planning to vote in the same place later in the day. Representatives of Gayrussia.ru reported that the police ‘suddenly broke into the place and took all the activists who were quietly voting.’ However, Lenta.ru reported that Nikolai Alekseev was arrested when he wrote ‘No to homophobes, no to Luzhkov’ on his ballot paper and started to demonstrate the bulletin to journalists. In Putin’s ‘guided democracy,’ spoiling the ballot papers is a silent form of protest by many: opposition leader Garry Kasparov has been reported writing ‘Another Russia’ over his ballot paper.

There was no proper protest organized. Reportedly, some 5 police busses could be seen around the voting place which usually serves as a school.

The activists (among them Nikolai Baev, Nikolai Alekseev and Alexey Davidov) were detained at the Tverskoy police station. They were charged for attempting to conduct an "illegal gathering", the judgement by the local court is expected for tomorrow.

An appeal signed by Russian Gays and Lesbians and released about 2 weeks ago called the LGBT community to come to vote and write on the ballot paper : "No to homophobs!" They claimed that no political party took the LGBT issues ino consideration and therefore they did not want to support anyone.

"The representatives of the Prosecution department made a big protocole against the Police for illegalling detaining us more than 3 hours. He asked to release everyone immediately" said Alekseev joined by phone.

"This is quite sensationnal as this usually never hapen" he added. Alekseev is free - but still waiting for the protocole from Militia.

Russian laws prohibit detaintion for more than 3 hours in such a case.

The news of the arrest was inserted by several medias around the world in their articles on Russian election this afternoon. The activists hope that the journalists in the polling station where activists were arrested can testify that activists did not conduct any demonstration, but simply ‘about 20 of them voted at the same time.’ Media were also waiting for the Mayor of Luzhkov who was due to the vote shortly after the LGBT activists.

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