By Trudy Ring
Originally published on Advocate.com December 16 2013 8:14 PM ET
Central Station, Moscow’s largest gay nightclub, has come under attack once again, with a group of 100 people dismantling its roof Saturday as well as stealing or damaging some equipment.
The group took over the attic of the club, which had been the site of at least two attacks in November, one involving gunfire, the other including the release of a harmful gas.
“The building was seized by a professional raiding company that served the interests of unknown foreign legal entities that ordered multiple illegal actions against LGBT visitors of the club,” club manager Andrei Lishchinsky wrote in an open letter addressed to Russian president Vladimir Putin and posted on Facebook. “These actions were obviously motivated by hatred toward representatives of the LGBT community and had a clear extremist tone.”
The actions may be related to a dispute between the club management and the owners of the building it occupies, The Moscow Times reports. Over the past few months, there have been about 20 violent attacks on Central Station, Lishchinsky said. Saturday’s incident forced the club to move a scheduled concert by the Swedish band Army of Lovers to another venue.
The manager said police have failed to respond to the attacks, and he called on Putin for protection. About 40 people were arrested near the club Saturday, but “Lishchinsky said police may have acted in the interests of those who organized the attacks on the club,” the Times reports. There has been a rise in antigay violence in Russia in recent months, and activists say the new national law against so-called gay propaganda, supported by Putin, has contributed to the nation’s homophobic climate.