Group of Masked Men Attacks Gay Club
By Ezekiel Pfeifer
The Moscow Times
15 October 2012
Police started an inquiry Friday to identify a group of men who wreaked havoc in a Moscow gay club — attacking clubgoers, overturning tables and throwing bottles — which left four people hospitalized and others injured.
Police began to receive phone calls around 9:30 p.m. Thursday night from people saying a group of aggressive young men had entered the club 7FreeDays, located in a basement on Milyutinsky Pereulok in central Moscow, and started a fight, an unspecified police official told Interfax.
The club, which on its website describes itself as the “first gay- and lesbian-friendly bar in Russia,” was holding an event in honor of international Coming Out Day. Police arrived at the club after the agitators had fled the scene.
Police plan to study videos from nearby surveillance cameras, RIA-Novosti reported, but the attackers might be hard to identify because, for privacy reasons, there were no cameras inside the club.
Four people were hospitalized, the news agency said.
Unspecified police officials told Lifenews.ru that the attackers were dressed in dark clothes and surgical masks and that many of them had shaved heads.
A man in the club at the time of the attack told the online tabloid that acid was thrown on him. Other witnesses told the NTV television channel that a group of about 20 attackers struck clubgoers repeatedly over the course of five to six minutes, turned over tables and threw bottles, then fled.
“First I thought it was part of the show. … A bit later we realized it was not a show, but an attack,” witness Pavel Samburov told the channel.
The injured included a woman who was rushed to a hospital with a punctured eye after her glasses were smashed to pieces, NTV reported.
The attackers held the bartender at gunpoint, forced her face down on the floor, and started smashing the bar, Human Rights Watch said in a statement on Friday. About 70 people were at the party that evening, the statement said. It called on Russian authorities to investigate the attack.
Earlier last week, the People’s Council, a nationalist Orthodox group, called for the closure of all gay clubs in Moscow as part of an effort to prohibit the “promotion of homosexuality.”
The People’s Council said Moscow lawmakers should follow the example set by their counterparts in St. Petersburg and other Russian cities, where the “promotion of homosexuality to minors” had already been banned.
Moscow has about a dozen gay or nominally gay-friendly bars and clubs, according to various Internet listings. No one has claimed responsibility for the Thursday attack.
Gay rights leader Nikolai Alexeyev said in a commentary piece on Gayrussia.eu that he thought the attack took place because the perpetrators felt they would not be punished.
“The main reason for what happened is the feeling of complete impunity of the people who commit such crimes, which must be considered hate crimes — in this case, hate crimes against those who love others,” Alexeyev wrote.
Let’s Stand Up to State-Sponsored Xenophobia!
A Statement by the Russian Socialist Movement
On October 11 in Moscow, a group of twenty armed thugs attacked the club 7FreeDays, where an event celebrating LGBT Coming Out Day was underway. After breaking into the club, the thugs assaulted partygoers before escaping the scene of the crime completely unimpeded.
The attack on 7FreeDays cannot be regarded as an isolated incident. Law enforcement authorities are always well informed about such groups of pogromists and their plans, so in this particular case we are dealing, if not with a deliberate provocation on the part of the police, then with their connivance. This attack has taken place amidst calls by United Russia deputies in the Moscow City Duma to adopt a law, similar to one already adopted in Petersburg, banning the “promotion of homosexuality” in Moscow, and proposals by Pavel Astakhov, Russia’s children’s rights ombudsman, that LGBT people should be banned from working in schools. Previously, when officials commented bans on marches and rallies defending LGBT rights, they argued that there was simply nothing for activists to defend, citing the presence of special LGBT nightclubs in the major cities. Now, however, their rhetoric has become tougher: we are confronted with calls and plans to actually reduce the labor rights of LGBT people, along with attacks on the places where they were permitted to openly express their personal feelings without the risk of encountering violent homophobia.
It is no accident that this flare-up of state-sponsored xenophobia is taking place amidst a new phase in the attack on the social rights of Russian citizens and the veritable abandonment by the authorities of their campaign promises. When governments want to take something away from their citizens, they begin vigorously supporting chauvinism and xenophobia. First, chauvinistic sentiments are artificially provoked in society by means of propaganda, and then the authorities pretend they are merely making concessions to the popular mood, thus concealing their own dirty deeds. Today, these deeds include cuts to the network of state educational institutions, the destruction of the system of free medical care, and increases in utility rates at a tempo that outpaces increases to state-sector wages and pensions.
Thus, opposing state-sponsored xenophobia and preventing growing popular discontent with the socio-economic situation from once again being channeled by the authorities into xenophobia and chauvinism is a task not only for LGBT activists.
The Russian Socialist Movement demands:
• a prompt investigation into the attack on 7FreeDays
• the repeal of all laws adopted recently in various regions of Russia that in one way or another limit the rights of LGBT people
• the resignation of all MPs and officials who have sponsored such legislative initiatives
We call on friendly leftist organizations, as well as all organizations and public figures who claim to belong to the opposition, to support our demands.
October 14, 2012
Russian Socialist Movement (RSD)
Almost as if on cue, a “grassroots organization” with the grimly and comically appropriate name of Reaction held a rally outside Our Lady of Kazan Cathedral in Petersburg on Sunday against what it dubbed the “homo dictatorship.” The homely appearance of the “Reactionaries” supports the RSD’s argument that, as it pursues homophobia and other forms of xenophobia as semi-official policy, the Russian state pretends to be caving into purely popular sentiment.
Stop, Gay Dictatorship! Today They Confiscated Dmitry Deneiko’s Cross, Tomorrow They’ll Arrest You!
[Deneiko is a nationalist arrested on suspicion of participating in a group assault on LGBT activists after an opposition rally in Petersburg on June 12.]