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Moscow authorities give green light to first gay community protest

Published time: October 02, 2010 05:04
Edited time: October 02, 2010 05:04

Scarcely had the former Moscow mayor left his workplace when the city he headed for almost two decades sensed the wind of change.

For the first time in the city’s history, the authorities allowed the members of Russia’s gay community to stage a protest.

The protesters are going to picket the office of Swiss Air Lines, which did not allow Nikolay Alekseev, a well-known organizer of Moscow gay pride parades, to fly to Geneva.

Moscow officials deny that the permission became possible due to the recent dismissal of Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov.

“Alekseev filed an official form in accordance with the law,” they said. “We do not have any information about his sexual orientation. All the citizens are equal under the Russian Constitution.”

Alekseev, however, does not have any doubt that only the firing of Luzhkov, who was in strong opposition to any gay community activities, made the protest possible.

After Luzhkov’s resignation, opinions of Russians have been divided, the country’s opinion research center found out.

33 per cent of citizens (mainly those coming from Central Russia and Northern Caucasus) believe that the former Moscow mayor was an example of a highly effective executive who managed to raise the living standards in the city.

34 per cent, however, think that Luzhkov did not manage to tackle a lot of problems in Moscow.

Among Luzhkov’s personal qualities, Russians cited determination (62 per cent), vigor (61 per cent), and expertise (55 per cent).

52 per cent of Russians called Luzhkov broadminded, 43 per cent kind, 38 per cent intellectual, whereas 49 per cent said that the former mayor was corrupted and 48 per cent sly. 44 per cent called him an intriguer.

At the same time, nearly all respondents underlined that they were grateful to Luzhkov for his social policy and multiple efforts to improve life in the city. The main problems he did not manage to resolve, they say, were traffic jams and lack of order.

Meanwhile, a couple of Russian retirees are suing the former mayor for moral and physical damages caused by smog that blanketed Moscow this past summer.

Nina and Viktor Shelepin are demanding compensation of 700,000 rubles ($20,000). They also insist that Luzhkov should provide their apartment with an air conditioning system.

The plaintiffs are citing the basic right to a favorable environment, saying that any Russian citizen has the right to demand compensation for illegal activities or lack of activity by state employees.