The European Court of Human Rights has fined Russia for blocking a Pride march in St Petersburg.
LGBTI activists Yuri Gavrikov, Alexander Sheremetyev, Dmitry Milkov, and Maria Yefremenkova were awarded €27,500 damages in total over authorities’ repeated refusal to allow them to hold St Petersburg Pride.
They wanted to hold the march, which they said would be attended by 500 to 600 people, in Central St Petersburg.
The city’s Security Department refused to allow the initial marching route, because it would’ve caused too much obstruction.
Two applications for alternative routes and venues were also refused by the department, who deemed them ‘unsuitable’.
Family march allowed
But on the proposed Pride date, 26 June 2010, United Russia’s Young Guard was allowed to use one of the proposed venues. Their event supporting ‘family and traditional family values’.
‘After 7 years we have reached this important milestone for Pride in St.Petersburg, confirming us that authorities violate our right of assembly,’ Gavrikov told Gay Star News.
‘But the situation in Russia is much more restricted in terms of freedoms. Marches and meetings are mostly banned by City Hall every year for many groups of people, not only for LGBT.
‘The only allowed events are for supporters of the United Russia party on Putin’s course.’
He said he intends to contribute the money towards Pride.
A symbolic sign for the LGBTI community
Gavrikov and Sheremetyev also applied for a 2011 Pride which was struck down in a similar fashion.
When they held the Pride anyways, in the center of St Petersburg, they were arrested and charged with administrative offences.
Gavrikov and was also awarded €7,500 in legal costs, plus any taxes he may be charged.
He told GSN he doesn’t expect the ruling to make big changes to Russia’s issues with freedom of expression, especially since it’s the build-up to next year’s presidential elections.
‘But for LGBT activist the the recent decision of ECHR is symbolic sign for the better future,’ he said.
‘It gets some optimism like a ray of sun in the dark cloudy day. We will continue our struggle.’
And the Pride movement would go on, Gavrikov said, adding that he already knew of initiatives starting in other cities.
Win for Moscow LGBTI activist
The fifth activist to win a case was Kirill Nepomnyashchiy who had applied to the court over a 2009 incident in Moscow.
Nepomnyashchiy and a number of other activists had notified the Prefect of the Northern Administrative District of Moscow of a picket they intended to held.
It was supposed to call for the Prefect’s resignation over ‘his efforts to incite hatred and enmity towards various social groups, and his failure to comply with electoral laws’.
Their application was struck down; a second application received no answer, forcing the activists to cancel the event.
A second picket, to be held in the city’s Novopushkinskiy Park was also refused, despite the activists finding an alternative venue.
The court ordered Russia to pay Nepomnyashchiy €7,500 in damages.