MOSCOW, September 6, 2007 – A series of letters, leaked to the Russian daily newspaper Moskovskiy Komsomolets and published today, show that the Moscow Mayor, Yuri Luzhkov dismissed a request from the Russian government to reach a compromise over Moscow Gay Pride, and how he requested – and got – from the GUVD department of the Moscow Police what amounts to a justification for the banning of this year’s Pride weeks before the application was made.
The letters [links to letters in Russian, and English translations, are at end of article] show that, on January 31, the secretary-general of the Council of Europe, Terry Davis, wrote to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov suggesting a “reasonable compromise” over the Moscow Gay Pride this year.
“I am very likely to be asked by the media to react to [the Moscow Gay Pride] situation because I am expected, as Secretary General of the Council of Europe, to take a position on issues which directly concern the rights protected by the European Convention on Human Rights,” Mr. Davis wrote.
“However, I am not keen to argue about such a sensitive issue in the media, and I would prefer to be in position to say that the Russian authorities have found a reasonable compromise, which respects the rights and human dignity of all individuals concerned.”
Then on March 2, the Russian Foreign Minister wrote to Mayor Luzhkov.
“From the point of view of [Mr.] Davis, the best solution to this quite sensitive issue in the eyes of Europeans would be looking for the just compromise decision which respects the rights and human dignity of all interested persons with regard to the interests of the Russian Federation,” the minister told the Mayor.
The reply to the Foreign Minister, from Iosif Ordzhonikidze, the then deputy mayor for international and external economic links at Moscow City Hall, who was recently moved from this position and appointed Mayor’s advisor, was not so conciliatorily.
“As is known, it is possible to look for a reasonable comprise with reasonable people. Here, in our point of view, we deal with well-thought and planned provocation,” Mr. Ordzhonikidze wrote in the letter dated April 19.
“Possibly, respected Mr. Davis, whom we, by the way, invited to the 860th Anniversary of Moscow, does not see this from his “Strasbourg far away” but we have concrete evidence that gay provocateurs intentionally warm up passions around sexual minorities, assisting the growth of homophobia in the society.”
“We are dealing with the explicit attempt by the West to pull us into a new dimension on the discussion on human rights using the topic of sexual minorities,” he tells the minister.
The letter concludes: “We would be thankful to you […] if the Ministry of Foreign Affairs could support us in the exposure of the intentions of gay provocateurs and the explanation of the real situation to the General Secretary of the Council of Europe …”
More than a week earlier, Mayor Luzhkov had asked the GUVD to work out measures to prevent Moscow Gay Pride. In a letter to the mayor dated April 30, the head of the Moscow Main Department of Internal Affairs (GUVD), Vladimir Pronin points out that the state-church holiday, Days of Slavic Writing and Culture, was scheduled between May 20 and June 1.
“Representatives of public, Russian Orthodox Church and other religious beliefs are against the conduct of the gay parade which is propagating relations contradictory to the norms of morality and unacceptable for the society,” he says in his letter to the mayor.
He then goes on to say: “Units of GUVD in Moscow are constantly controlling mass public actions in the city, monitoring media and Internet with the aim to take measures of preventive character and non-admission of illegal actions on the part of representatives of sexual minorities.”
Mr. Pronin then says that he estimates that 120 extra personnel from militia regiments and the OMON will be needed each day to prevent any illegal demonstrations during the Gay Pride.