British diplomats and activists attacked in Russia

This weekend marked yet another not particularly glorious episode in Russo-British relations, as one diplomat and two (well known) British gay rights activists were attacked in separate incidents.

First in line for a battering was Nigel Gould-Davies, first secretary at the British embassy in Moscow. He was attacked at 1am on Saturday morning, as he walked across the Theatre Square in Chita, the last stop in his Siberian lecture tour. According to news reports, he was treated in hospital for bruising to his face, but wasn’t seriously hurt. The BBC add that the motive for the attack is unclear, but police are leaning towards the ‘random attack’ explanation:

Russian police believe students celebrating their graduation could have been responsible for the assault.

Richard Fairbrass attacked Moscow Gay PrideNext up were British gay rights activists, Mark Tatchell (famous for attempting to place Robert Mugabe under citizen’s arrest) and Richard Fairbrass (an eighties (?) singer, famous mostly for singing “I’m too sexy”. They were beaten while protesting against the decision to ban a Gay Pride march in Moscow and, to add insult to injury were arrested for their troubles.

Tatchell writes:

Peter Tatchell attacked Moscow Gay PrideWe arrived at the city hall at 12 o’clock on Sunday. Our intention was to hand a letter to the Moscow mayor, Yuri Luzhkov, but the police allowed gangs of neo-Nazis to infiltrate our group. They started attacking people in an absolutely shocking way. The police stood and watched while people punched me, knocked me to the ground and then kicked me. Eventually the police arrested me and let my neo-Nazi assailants walk free. I was taken into a police van with others, including the German MP Volker Beck, and the Italian MEP Marco Cappato. When we sat in the bus the police taunted us. They said: “Are you members of the sexual minority?” We said yes. They said: “We are going to have some fun with you at the police station.”

I spent 45 minutes at the station trying unsuccessfully to register a complaint. When we left, neo-Nazis attacked us again and pelted us with eggs. A Russian orthodox priest ran across the road and attacked us too. There were hundreds of riot police who could have easily prevented the neo-Nazis from assaulting us.

As well as Tatchell and Fairbrass, 31 others were arrested, including an Italian MEP.

Video of both attacks can be found on the BBC website. Obviously, they’re short clips, but the attacks looked unprovoked to me.

For more detailed, hour by hour reporting on the events at Moscow Gay Pride, see UK Gay News.

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9 Responses

  1. Red Exile says:

    The sad fact remains that the organisers surely realised that this event would provoke a violent counter-demonstration; and that the authorities wouldn’t provide 100% protection (although I gather were more ‘even-handed’ than some of the Western media’s witness reports have said). Truly, this was a PR stunt.

    If you ask Russian gays what they think about Sunday’s events then – allowing for a base-level political apathy that Westerners who follow current affairs always find odd – you’ll find they don’t hugely support the gay rights movement. The prevailing attitude is ‘let sleeping dogs lie’ and, yes, they do fear a ‘backlash’; legislative or otherwise. Additionally they believe that this is an area where time, and changing social attitudes, matters more than political zeitgeist.

  2. copydude says:

    Is the anti-Putin lobby getting so desperate that it sends a bunch of assbangers to Russia for a punch-up?

    And anyone who thinks they weren’t put up to it is playing with half a deck.

    Speaking as a Russian citizen, I’m so grateful that British rent boys are speaking up for our rights.

    The phrase, ‘butt out’ has never been more appropriate.

  3. nikolay i says:

    Your first picture is of Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov. I think you might have made a mistake there.

    Sorry for being the one to point out a picture typo.

  4. Mr. Potato Head says:

    “Is the anti-Putin lobby getting so desperate that it sends a bunch of assbangers to Russia for a punch-up?”

    The Moscow police could, of course, have prevented the punch-up by not acting like thugs. I guess that’s still too much to expect from them.

  5. Andy says:

    Your first picture is of Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov.

    Ahem. Bit of a brainstorm there – not quite sure what I was thinking when I posted that. I blame the wine 🙁

    Thanks Nikolay.

  6. ReluctantMuscovite says:

    Regardless of what I think about homosexuality, I find it odd that a German member of parliament would go to a political demonstration in Russia, demonstrating on an issue related only to Russia.

  7. Lyndon says:

    Is the anti-Putin lobby getting so desperate that it sends a bunch of assbangers to Russia for a punch-up?

    Sorry, but are you serious? Do you really see a conspiracy or a “lobby” hiding behind every bush or bunghole? And “assbangers”? Not to impose American standards of political correctness, but couldn’t you as a writer have come up with a more appropriate and less disparaging term?

    I find it odd that a German member of parliament would go to a political demonstration in Russia, demonstrating on an issue related only to Russia.

    Here’s the thing – to the people it touches personally, it’s not exactly an issue related only to Russia any more than Jim Crow was an issue only related to the US in the pre-Civil-Rights era.

  1. May 29, 2007

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