By Thom Senzee
Originally published on Advocate.com July 30 2014 7:21 PM ET
Russia's first violence-free LGBT Pride event happened last Saturday in St. Petersburg, according to a report from the Moscow Times.
According to the report, which cited Radio Free Europe | Radio Liberty as its source, about 25 people showed up in what was a reportedly a properly permitted, city-sanctioned event at Field of Mars square in downtown St. Petersburg.
One event-goer told The Moscow Times that the lack of violence was likely due the preoccupation of nationalists and religious conservatives — the groups most vocally opposed to LGBT Russians —on the current controversy in Ukraine.
"The Nazis are busy with Donbass," the unnamed Pride attendee told the Times. Donbass is a town in the disputed eastern portion of Ukraine, currently experiencing armed conflict between government troops and pro-Russian separatists.
According to the Times, earlier attempts to get city approval for Pride events going back to 2006 were denied. Each of the attempted Pride rallies held in St. Petersburg over the past four years were marred by violence.
Although there were no reported violent confrontations, U.K. LGBT news site Pink News reports that Russian police did detain several Pride attendees under the nationwide ban on so-called gay propaganda, which prohibits any positive discussion of LGBT identities in forums that may be visible to minors. Notably, St. Petersburg was the first Russian province to institute a local ordinance outlawing such "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations," and that legislation provided a template for the nationwide law that passed Parliament unanimously in June 2013.
The event was organized by LGBT advocacy group Ravnopraviye, which means "equality" in Russian.