Three masked men attacked prominent Russian activist Nikolai Alekseev while boarding a train to Kostroma, Russia. Alekseev, who co-founded Moscow Pride and GayRussia, claims it was an order made by a Russian mayor.
“I kept the fact that I was traveling to Kostroma strictly confidential, only the city authorities knew that I was attending. It was interesting to note that the three men attacked me specifically but did not touch fellow LGBT rights activist Kirill Nepomnyaschiy, who was right next to me,” said Alekseev in an interview with Gay Star News. “So I suspect this was orchestrated by the city’s mayor, whom after all I sued. I think this is an attempt to scare me.”
Alekseev’s trip was about the city’s ban on gay pride events, which the Kostroma district court said was “lawful” legislation. His assailants wore white masks during the attack.
“I was about 100 meters from the train station when someone ran into my back with a bicycle. At first I thought it was a simple mistake but then they started shouting, ‘Fuck off to Europe you faggot,’” Alekseev said. “Then one threw an egg at the back of my head, while another punched me at my left ear. I still have pain in my left ear with a burning sensation.”
LGBT advocate Peter Tatchell believes Alekseev’s suspicions are valid.
“The assault on Nikolai is a disturbing development. It seems very likely that the assailants were tipped off by state officials,” Tatchell told Gay Star News. “I witnessed something similar myself, when neo-Nazis turned up at a secret, unannounced LGBT rights protest in Moscow and violently attacked us. I fear for Nikolai’s safety. He’s a very brave man. Dozens of Putin’s regime critics have been assassinated.”
Alekseev vowed to continue his activism regardless of future attacks.
“[The mayor] will not stop my fellow activists or me. We will continue to apply for permit for a gay pride parade in Kostroma and pursue this matter in the courts,” Alekseev concluded. “As I said today in court we will continue until we win, until city authorities will have to allow it. The attackers are cowards! And I think they suffered more than me. I always say that I am made of iron and its useless to try and break my arms or legs.”
Russia has been the center of controversy since initiatives began to ban gay pride and demonstrations as “homosexual propaganda.” Russian President Vladimir Putin approves of an anti-LGBT adoption ban.
The European Council is pleading for the country to allow LGBT Pride parades.
“Russian authorities have an obligation to also protect that LGBT people [so they]can express their views and entertain demonstrations in order to express their views. This is a fundamental principle in the European Convention on Human Rights,” said Council of Europe Secretary-General Thorbjorn Jagland in a press release.
The Levada Center performed a study and discovered that 85 percent of Russians opposed marriage equality while 5 percent said that gays should be liquidated.
Putin denies any discrimination on the LGBT community but answered, “LGBT people are being attacked and sometimes killed.”