Monday, May 30, 2011

As Moscow Pride Violence Erupted,
Organizer Hid at Family Dacha?

In an unsigned post at the LGBT group site Anti Dogma, several gay Russians present their analysis of Saturday's violent and media-grabbing pride march organized by Nikolai Alekseev and a handful of local activists. One of the authors, Ruslan Porshnev, translated the essay into English and I've excerpted key passages:

Leaders of the gay parade in Moscow had promised not to hide, but in fact they didn’t show up on May 28th event. At a press conference on May 27 Nikolai Alexeyev said: "Tomorrow there will be two [protest] actions... we do not intend to hide anymore".

However, expectations of the many journalists who have come to the designated place, have been deceived. As described by the witness Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, member of the art-group "Voina", reporters frantically rushed to find at least one activist to be interviewed about the meaning of what is happening. But no luck.

One of the invited photographers Mitya Aleshkovsky reproached the pride organizers in the commentary to his report: "Nikolai, if you suddenly read these lines, I want to ask you. 82-year-old human rights activist Ludmila Alekseeva was not afraid to go out for the [Strategy] Day 31 event, and police took her, and you, Nicolai, call your supporters to go out, invite journalists, and the second year in a row we have to wait for you, chase you, seek for you. Last year we accidently managed to film your "action", because after a long trip by car all over Moscow, we just ran out of petrol. So, Nicolai, either go in the forefront, or stop misleading us”.

"[They] talked me out of it," Alexeyev said. According to other information released by British activist Peter Tatchell after the rally, Alekseev did not participate in the "gay parade" because of his aching foot, which he injured on the scene, walking out from the live TV show "Duel" (“Poedinok”), dedicated to the gay parade.

In an interview with “Moscow News” Alekseev voiced a third version of his absence. Explaining his “no show” to the journalist of the publication, Alexeyev told about “reluctance to divert media attention to himself”.

"I did not want me to once again be charged that the gay pride parade is my personal PR”, said Alexeyev. “Besides, I have a difficult family situation that I would’ve not been able to resolve if I was arrested. I could’ve been detained in an administrative arrest”.

Where exactly was Nikolai while neo-Nazis and religious fanatics attacked the 20 or so gay activists, and manhandled by police officials? He's offered up several reasons for skipping his own demonstration; none of them satisfactory. What kind of hostile and provocative leader organizes a protest that inflames violent homophobes, invites his local and international pals to the action, then chickens out and offers no plausible defense for his absence?

It wouldn't shock me to learn if on Saturday, as gay bodies were bashed in his hometown, Nikolai was hiding out at his family's dacha in the countryside. The photo of Nikolai holding shish kebab spears on the day after the pride violence, was taken by French lesbian Judith Silberfeld, who's been blogging from Moscow. She filed these details on the excursion to the dacha:

Sunday 23:59 (local time). The feast after the battle, we spent the day in the country, right on the border of Moscow. To thank the activists, Nikolai Alekseev has invited everyone to a barbecue at his parents' dacha. A twenty-minute subway, about the same bus, 10 minute walk alongside a forest and then sinks a little and then calm. After the fury of the Pride, it makes a world of good.

The house (three rooms, toilet in the garden), built by the grandfather of Nikolai in the early 30's, now owned by his mother. Upon our arrival, Nikolai shows us where not to set foot, flowers were planted. ...

The gay Russian leader, who never fully explained his supposed kidnapping last fall by mysterious security agents in collusion with SwissAir employees, owes the gay community some serious answers about why he was missing in action at Moscow Pride.

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