Gays arrested at Moscow demo

by Rex Wockner

International News Briefs

Fresh from his reported two-and-a-half day kidnapping by unidentified government officials, Moscow gay leader Nikolai Alekseev, along with 10 other activists, was arrested in Moscow Sept. 21 for staging an unauthorized demonstration at City Hall against Mayor Yuri Luzhkov's strident homophobia.

The demo, dubbed "Luzhkov Faggot," took place on Luzhkov's 74th birthday and played off a recent court case in which gays unsuccessfully sued him for defamation for having called gays "faggots" ("gomiki") on television.

The protesters were cited and released.

Alekseev has reported that he was abducted by unidentified government agents Sept. 15 at Moscow's Domodedovo Airport. He said they drove him to a police station two hours away, mocked and insulted him, called him "faggot" and "pederast," probably drugged him via a glass of water and eventually presented him with a paper to sign that said an agreement had been reached to drop his lawsuits at the European Court of Human Rights over Luzhkov's repeated bans of gay Pride parades.

Alekseev said he didn't sign it, "despite persistent 'advice' not to enter into conflict with the authorities."

During the ordeal, someone used Alekseev's mobile phone to text false information to the media, saying that Alekseev was in Belarus, had sought political asylum there and was dropping his European court cases.

Alekseev was set free on the outskirts of the city of Tula early the morning of Sept. 18, made his way to the city center and took a bus to Moscow, he said.

He's planning to sue the airport, its security agents and Swiss International Air Lines because he was in an "international" part of the airport when he was seized and "illegally" forced back into Russian territory.

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