Talking with Tatchell – Archive

Russia’s flawed and failing democracy

2 March 2007

Peter Tatchell interviews Nikolai Alekseev, the Russian gay human rights campaigner who is organiser of Moscow Gay Pride and head of the LGBT Human Rights Project of Gay Russia.

Russia’s transition to pluralist democracy is at best shaky and at worst being reversed. The relatively liberal Yeltsin era has been eclipsed by a new wave of authoritarianism under Putin. The electoral system is fixed to block the emergence of new parties and anti-establishment candidates. Press freedom is constrained by threats, intimidation and the murder of journalists. Human rights violations are widespread and often unchecked.

Symptomatic of these many abuses is the banning of the Moscow Gay Pride march by the city’s Mayor, Yuri Luzhkov. He has denounced the march as “satanic.”

Last year’s Moscow Gay Pride march was the first ever in the Russian capital. It defied Mayor Luzhkov’s ban and was violently set upon by riot police, far right extremists, ultra-nationalists and Russian Orthodox fundamentalists.

Following last year’s ban, the march organiser, Nikolai Alekseev, is filing an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights. He is also suing Mayor Luzhkov for libel over allegations of satanism.

Alekseev sees the gay rights battle as part of the wider struggle for Russian democracy and human rights.

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