The U.S. State Department says it is concerned about the violent arrest of several LGBT activists in Russia, including Americans Andy Thayer and Dan Choi.
A group of activists from around the world joined gay Russians on May 28 to march in the streets after yet another gay pride event was blocked by government officials in Moscow. The action caused unrest in front of Moscow City Hall and the Kremlin, and attacks from police and a group of neo-Nazis.
"We note with concern that in Moscow on Saturday, May 28, a peaceable demonstration of Russians advocating for the rights of gays and lesbians, joined by international supporters, was forcefully disrupted by counterprotesters, and that Russian security forces then detained people from both groups, including American citizens," State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner said in a statement Sunday. "Some protesters were seriously injured according to media reports. Freedom of assembly is a fundamental right all members of the OSCE committed to, including in the Moscow declaration and as recently as the Astana summit. As nationwide legislative elections approach, constraints on the ability of Russian citizens peacefully to gather and express their views will be closely watched in evaluating the integrity of the electoral process. We call on Russian authorities to work with municipal officials to find better ways to safeguard these fundamental freedoms."