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Oct 03, 2008 News: Saint Petersburg Gay and Lesbian Film Festival Cancelled
By Sven Rabatzky

(Russia) Gay and Lesbian Film Festival “Bok o Bok” which was supposed to take place in Saint Petersburg from today and last until Sunday finally did not open after Fire Department Inspectors closed the place due to problems with fire security. In a phone interview to Project GayRussia.Ru, Organiser of the festival Irina Sergeeva said that the clubs “The Place” and “Sochi” where the screenings of the films were supposed to take place, were closed due to fire security reasons.

Representative of Project GayRussia.Ru Yuri Gavrikov who came to take part to the festival witnessed from the club at noon that 25 people gathered to watch the first movie but the organizers informed that the screening could not take place.

Earlier the organizers of LGBT film festival in Saint Petersburg were denied the conduct their screenings in the state Cinema House and in the private cinema center “PIK”. Both places had first accepted to welcome the event after finally declining.

Organisers of the festival have not yet informed about their plans concerning the possible change of the dates and places of the festival. They expressed their doubt that the screenings of the films will take place in the coming days as planned in the program.

Chief Moscow Gay Pride Organiser Nikolai Alekseev said on Thursday that “Russian authorities continue their policy of homophobia and arbitrary unlawful actions by preventing events organized behind closed doors in private places.”

“From the very first day I supported the conduct of this film festival in Saint Petersburg but already in February I expressed my fears that the authorities will stop the event on technical reasons at the very last minute,” stressed Alekseev.

“The only major LGBT event that could be organized over the last years in Russia are the May 2006 and May 2007 LGBT conference that where held during the Moscow Pride Festival at the Moscow Swissotel. And still, it is only because we booked conference rooms in a local 5 stars hotel belonging to foreign interests that authorities were not able to play the same game with us,” concluded Alekseev.

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