International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia celebrated in 15 cities in Russia

May 17 saw a multitude of events across Russia celebrating the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. 

Rainbow Flash mobs on this day have been held in Russia since 2009 when Russian activists in 30 cities for the first time joined the world in marking this special date.

The first Rainbow Flash mobs were held in Nakhodka and Khabarovsk. Despite attempts to cancel the Rainbow Over Amur River picket, it was neverthelesss successfully held. In Nakhodka the Rainbow Flash mob coincided with the City Day. The participants tied their wish cards to balloons and released them into the air.

In Moscow up to 100 people took part in the event on Bolotnaya square. Several plain-clothes police officers and a couple of police vans were also present. No untoward incidents had occurred until after the flash mob as the activists were walking back to the metro station. Two young women were arrested for no obvious reason and kept at a police station for 1.5 hours "for a talk", then released without charges or protocol.

In St Petersburg the Rainbow Flashmob gathered 150-200 participants. Despite attacks on LGBT activists on their way to the Field of Mars and back, as well as on the tube, and one of the buses that was to pick up the activists at the location of the event being pelted with stones, many say that this event went much better than last year.

The participants were chanting slogans: "Fascism shall not pass!" and "Homophobia is StPete's disgrace!" before releasing first black, and then coloured balloons into the air. Approximately 200 aggressive protesters had gathered around the spot long before the event started. Some of them were carrying Russian imperial flags, icons, many had their faces hidden under masks, the so-called "Cossacks" were spotted there too. They were shouting homophobic insults, cursing in foul language and singing psalms.  

No incidents were reported from Arkhangelsk, Yekaterniburg, Tyumen, Tolyatti, Samara, Voronezh, Syktyvkar and Ufa. 

The Rainbow Flash mob in Murmansk was nearly disrupted after one of the organisers was arrested by the police on charges of "gay propaganda" because the social networking page on which the event had been announced had minors among its subscribers. The event was nevertheless carried through by the rest. 

Perm was graced by two Flashmobs this year: one had been organised by LGBT-Perm, the other - by the Russian national LGBT network. Three activists from LGBT Perm were arrested by the police, while no incidents were reported in connection with the second event. 

The participants in the sanctioned picket against xenophobia, intolerance and discrimination in Nizhny Novgorod were attacked after it was over. No one was injured, the organisers report.