Moscow's riot police violently dispersed an "unprecedented" gay rights rally that Russian and international activists attempted to stage near the Kremlin. Former US Army Lt. Dan Choi, British activist Peter Tatchell, Chicago-based Andy Thayer and French Black gay academic and activist Louis-Georges Tin were among those arrested.
"[M]embers of an ultra-Orthodox group had gathered near the Kremlin" to ambush the protesters, reports AFP.
An AFP correspondent saw the police then move in and violently wrestle both activists and members of the religious group to the ground before leading them off in handcuffs to waiting security vans. "We have come here to prevent this event from happening," Orthodox group member Leonid Simonovich-Nikshich said as scuffles raged around him. "God burned down Sodom and Gomorrah and he will burn down Moscow too if we let things like this happen," he told AFP.
Members of the religious group wore black robes and brandished Christian Orthodox cross. An AFP correspondent saw one man rip up a picture of Elton John—the openly gay icon of the global gay and lesbian community.
Eighteen gay activists and 14 anti-gays were arrested, reports UK Gay News, which live-blogged the violent protest.
Russia has been criticized by the State Department for widespread human rights violations. Dozens were arrested when Moscow's riot police violently dispersed a gay rights march in May 2009. The nation's first officially sanctioned LGBT rights protest was November 2010 in St. Petersburg. That was also interrupted by extreme violence.
Choi uploaded video via mobile while in police custody. Watch that, video from the protest and the AP"s report WHEN YOU JUMP ...