For the last forty eight hours, many media outlets reported the information released by GayRussia.Ru that the new Moscow Mayor permitted Moscow Gay Pride to take place for the first time in his city.
And amid the “is it on or off” confusion, co-organiser Nikolai Baev told UK Gay News: “We feel lonely and confused.”
The event, which the organisers applied for a permit earlier this month, is a rally Moscow Gay Pride Parade: Homosexuality in the History of World Culture and Civilization and is scheduled to take place on May 28 from 1pm to 5pm at Bolotnaya Ploshchad in Moscow.
The application for the festival was made on April 12, one day after the decision from the European Court on Human Rights that the banning of Moscow Gay Pride in 2006, 2007 and 2008 was illegal into force.
According to the local procedure imposed by the City authorities, the Festival needs to get a green light both from the City Hall and the Regional Security Department.
However, on Tuesday a dissenting voice came from the Regional Security Department. “[The organisers] have not received permission,” an un-named source in the department told the Russian Interfax news agency. “And they are not likely to get it, even under the guise of a cultural and educational action,” the source was quoted as adding.
This contradictory statement came after the Department of Culture at City Hall confirmed in an interview with LifeNews.ru that the letter of approval signed by Lyudmila Shvetsova, the deputy Mayor of Moscow was sent to the organisers. The letter of approval said that coordination with the security authorities is necessary – and that the event was authorised for a group of only 500 participants and not 5,000 as initially requested by the organisers.
This was immediately agreed to by the organisers who stated publicly that they wanted to cooperate with City Hall.
But on Wednesday, the deputy Mayor denied to Interfax that she ever gave a permission to allow the event.
“Their request has been addressed to me,” she told Interfax, adding that work is still being done on the application, in line with City Hall procedures.
“We are studying these proposals, and they will receive an answer within due time,” she told the news agency. “I have not given any answers yet.”
Mrs Shvetsova also added that the decision whether to give a go ahead to the event is one which will be taken collectively and not individually.
The past five Prides have all been banned by the Mayor personally who used homophobia as part of a populist policy.
“Welcome to Russian politics,” Nikolai Alekseev, Moscow Gay Pride chief organiser said last night.
“I would not be surprised if City Hall used this trick to tell me that our application was approved in order to check the reaction of the public opinion prior to making up their mind.
“Well, the good news is that there was no harsh and violent public reaction. No one went in the streets to protest. Moscow is not burning today. We can simply see that no one cares. Discussion whether the Pride can or cannot be go ahead is nonsense as Russia has no longer any legal basis to forbid it.”
Mr. Alekseev also revealed last night that a letter had been sent to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe asking for the support of the organisation in implementing the decision of the European Court of Human Rights.
“After this Court decision that we won against Russia for the banning of Pride, the Council of Europe must stand firm on our side in helping us to have the decision implemented. We feel lonely and confuse.” said Mr. Baev.
Mr. Alekseev pointed out that Russia would not show itself to be a democratic country by letting the Pride go ahead, or banning it.
“That being said, President Medvedev has a unique chance in his hands to give a signal which will be watched and discussed beyond Kremlin,” he said.
Organisers further announced last night that should their sixth attempt to stage their Pride next month be banned, despite the European Court’s decision into force, they will organise the 2012 Moscow Gay Pride on March 13 , the day of the Russian Presidential elections.
“As one of the last discriminated social groups in Russia on the issue of freedom of assembly, there is no better forum than the Presidential election to raise this issue,” Mr. Alekseev said.
While the outcome of this election usually is in no doubt, the decision by gay activists to use this date as an opportunity to attract media attention to their issues might not please Kremlin.”