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LGBT Russians Peacefully March in St. Petersburg, other cities

Jim Burroway

May 17th, 2009
Rainbow Flash Mob in St. Petersburg (Valentin Ilyushin/

Rainbow Flash Mob in St. Petersburg (Valentin Ilyushin/

In sharp contrast to yesterday’s aggressive breakup of a peaceful Slavic Pride march in Moscow by riot police, a “Rainbow flash mob” of between 100 and 250 LGBT people and supporters marched peacefully today in St. Petersburg.

The flash mob gathered at Ligovsky Avenue and walked from there to Nevsky Prospect, remaining on the sidewalk and off of the street. Police reportedly gathered to monitor the situation but made no moves to hinder the march. Once the group reached Nevsky Prospect, they released hundreds of balloons into the air with notes attached.

Balloon release in Chelyabinsk (Anti-Dogma)

Balloon release in Chelyabinsk (Anti-Dogma)

There were much smaller balloon releases in other cities and towns across Russia, all coordinated to take place at 2:00 p.m. local time. In the southern Ural mountains city of Chelyabinsk, a man holding a half dozen colorful balloons walked down the rain-soaked streets of the main commercial district. His balloons stood out on the drab gray afternoon and attracted the attention of a couple of women. Impressed with the “positive energy” of the colorful balloons and the message of equality and freedom for LGBT people they represented, the two agreed to lend their support and helped to release the balloons.

Perhaps the most impressive accomplishment these balloon releases achieved was the widespread favorable coverage in the Russian press. The balloon releases were organized as part of the International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO).

Meanwhile back in Moscow, all of the participants arrested in yesterday’s march have been released. Six, including march organizer Nikolai Alekseev, were held overnight and released at noon today.

[Hat tip: Anti-Dogma]



May 17th, 2009 | LINK

I don’t know how the political system works in Russia, do the people really get to elect their mayors? If they do, I would hope that the Moscow mayor is voted out of office, soon. That the press gave today’s event some favorable air time increases the odds that governmental opinion will change.

May 17th, 2009 | LINK

I am so, so, so glad that Russian LGBTs in other cities had a much better experience, and so glad that the ones arrested in Moscow were released! My wife was so broken up by the events in Moscow yesterday, and so was her best friend. (A bisexual man who grew up in Moscow.) But there are 11 time zones in Russia, and I’m grateful that not all are such horrific places for the LGBTs there. The balloons do have a beautiful positive energy! I hope that energy spreads to Moscow.

May 17th, 2009 | LINK

All Russians, and Muskovites in particualr, should hang their heads in shame at the heavy-handed treatment dished out to a few dozen people staging a peaceful protest to bring attention to the lack of human rights in Russia. The treatment and persecution of gay citizens, who work hard and pay taxes, just like any other Russian citizen, is shocking. It sends a loud message to the world that Russian pursues a policy of regilious bigotry and neo-Stalinism which has no respect for the human rights of its citizens. Has Russia not learnt from its history of the 20th century? The twin evil gulags of neo-fascism and religious intolerance are a blight on the whole of Russia. This kind of behaviour only intensifies the world’s perceptions that Russia is a backward country and not worthy of being counted among the civilised countries of the world.

quo III
May 18th, 2009 | LINK


There’s no reasons for “all Russians” to hang their heads in shame at this, given that they aren’t collectively responsible for it. Patronizing the Russian people isn’t helpful.

May 18th, 2009 | LINK

I’m Russian and I participated in the RainbowFlash in Saint-Petersburg. You know, I can’t understand, why Nikolaev every year tries to march illegally in Moscow? To be arrested? To find a subject to discuss in Europe?

There are many actions in Petersburg now, peaceful and legal. Because our leaders try to come out but not to be famous in european eyes.

Sorry for my terrible english)

May 19th, 2009 | LINK

St. Petersburg (the great city of Dostoevsky) has always had the coolness factor over Moscow.

May 19th, 2009 | LINK

Tatjana : Your English is actually pretty good!

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