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Gay rights campaigner arrested in Moscow after protest

He was held after a one-man demonstration in a public square busy with football fans.

Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell is questioned and led away by Russian authorities.
Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell is questioned and led away by Russian authorities. PA

Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has been arrested in Moscow after staging a one-man protest near the Kremlin.

He was detained near the statue of Marshal Zhukov, in a public square which was busy with football fans, while holding a poster attacking Russian president Vladimir Putin.

It read: "Putin fails to act against Chechnya torture of gay people".

Russia World Cup 2018
Russia World Cup 2018 Peter Tatchell

Several police officers moved in to detain him and told him he had broken the law in Russia.

He was allowed to walk to a nearby police car where he was questioned before being transferred to another car and being driven away to a police station.

Mr Tatchell shouted "OK" as he left the first vehicle before being flanked by two officers in the car which drove him away.

Russia World Cup 2018
Russia World Cup 2018 Peter Tatchell is arrested

The Peter Tatchell Foundation issued a statement shortly after his arrest, in which he said: "I was exercising my lawful right to protest, under the Russian constitution, which guarantees freedom of expression and the right to protest in Articles 29 and 31.

"A one-person protest, which is what I did, requires no permission from the authorities and the police.

"Getting arrested is standard for Russians who protest for LGBT+ rights or against corruption, economic injustice and Russia's annexation of Crimea and its bombing of civilians in Syria."

Russia World Cup 2018
Russia World Cup 2018 Peter Tatchell

He said he had been treated more leniently than Russian protesters because of his British passport and said he was "awed" by their courage.

On his reasons for staging the protest, Mr Tatchell said before his arrest: "Little action has been taken by the Russian government and police to crack down on far right extremists who target LGBT+ people for violent and humiliating assaults - including the instigators of the current threats to bash and stab LGBT+ football fans at the World Cup."

He said it was his sixth visit to the country, where he said he has twice been arrested during protests and suffered brain damage after being attacked by Russian neo-Nazis in 2007.

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