Nikolai Alexeyev Russian gay rights activist who disappeared after being arrested at a Moscow airport this week claims to be in Belarus and aims to seek political asylum, according to the Interfax news agency.via The Canadian Press
Nikolai Alexeyev says he was “squeezed out” of Russia under pressure. Interfax says he told the agency by text message that he is in the Belarusian capital Minsk and preparing to seek asylum. Belarius is another politically repressed homosexual state in which Alexeyev has been a key figure in attempting to produce Pride parades and protest which are broken up swiftly and harshly by police.
Homosexuality was decriminalized in Russia in 1993, but opposition to gay rights remains widespread. Moscow’s mayor Yuri Luzhkov has called gays “satanic” and the city routinely denies gay activists permission to rally, saying the gatherings would be dangers to public safety because they would attract violent opposition.
Akexeyev was to have flown to Geneva for a United Nations meeting on gay rights, but never boarded the plane. A spokeswoman for Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport said Alexeyev was barred from the plane Thursday after refusing to take off his shoes at the security check, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported.
However, Interfax quoted Alexeyev as saying that he was taken from the airport to a police station in an unspecified town, where he was forced to sign a document saying he would withdraw suits he filed with the European Human Rights Court protesting Moscow’s ban of gay rights rallies.