Yesterday, to mark the birthday of Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, the city’s gay activists gathered by the statue of Yuri Dologruky — the city’s founder — across from Luzhkov’s office.
They chained themselves to a makeshift fence and yelled, “Luzhkov, you fag, happy birthday!” (Luzhkov has not allowed Gay Pride parades in the city — they’re rather violently broken up — and has been known to refer to gays as, yes, “fags.”) The protest was happening in the wake of the sudden reappearance of Nikolai Alekseyev, who says he was kidnapped by Russian security services and held for two days in various locations around Moscow. Which is scary if it happened, or a really sick publicity stunt. Anyway.
It was sad to see, this protest. The protesters were so few that they were barely visible among the gajillion photographers and two gajillion police officers. Within a few minutes, eleven of the protesters were grabbed and hauled off — very roughly and cringe-worthily — by police, including one young lesbian holding a sign that said, “Luzhkov, Moscow is not your beehive!” Though, watching the protest, I was surprised they found eleven whole activists to haul away. Like I said, it was mostly journalists and police.
Oh, and the police? Whom did the city send to deal with the gays? Almost exclusively female cops. Who talked back to their commanders and stood there taking pictures of each other. Some of them wore heels.