Moscow police have used what the watching media describe as violent and oppressive tactics to break-up the peaceful Slavic Gay Price march in the city.
The march, staged a few hours ahead of the Eurovision Song Contest final which is beamed around the world, had been outlawed by Moscow city authorities.
But permission had been given for ant-gay counter-demonstrations by far right ultra-nationalists.
Between 35 and 40 Russian LGBT activists have been arrested, including British human rights activist Peter Tatchell and Chicago LGBT activist Andy Thayer. Pride organiser Nikolai Alekseev was held down by 5 fully armed riot police and arrested.
European Embassy diplomats witnessed the violence are said to be planning a joint diplomatic action.
And Slavic Gay Pride organisers have called on the artists and performers in Eurovision Song Contest to boycott tonight’s showpiece event in solidarity with the beaten and arrested protesters.
“I call upon all of the artists who are due to perform at tonight’s Eurovision [final] to boycott the event and send a message that Russia‘s state oppression of human rights is not acceptable,” said Nikolai Alekseev, chief organiser of the Pride.
“The Russian Government is using this year’s Eurovision in Moscow as a gala showpiece to show the world how far the country has improved since the early 1990’s.
“However, what was witnessed this afternoon on the streets of Moscow shows the world just how little Russia has travelled when it comes to supporting fundamental human rights,” he said.
“The police brutality that we witnessed here this afternoon is shocking. We planned a peaceful march to highlight the dire state of LGBT rights in Russia today. The police, given violent legitimacy by the openly homophobic Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov, did not hold back with their weapons, despite the world’s media watching.”
Mr. Alekseev went on to point out that activists were defending the often violated human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Russians.
“We demand the same legal protection against discrimination and hate crimes that non-LGBT people enjoy.
“This episode has shamed the Russian Government and Moscow authorities before the world, he concluded.