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The European Court of Human Rights today made an historic ruling that the mayor of Moscow acted illegally by banning successive Moscow Gay Pride parades, every year since 2006.
The appeal against these bans was lodged in Strasbourg by Nikolai Alekseev, organiser of the Moscow Gay Pride committee.
Responding to the court victory by the Russian gay activists who filed the case, campaigner Peter Tatchell said:
"This ruling is a major rebuke to the disgraced former mayor of Moscow, Yuri Luzhkov, and to his authoritarian allies in the Russian government. They have been found guilty of violating the freedom of expression clauses of the European Convention on Human Rights.
"It is a huge embarrassment to the top Russian leaders, Putin and Medvedev, as well as to Luzhkov. Their suppression of peaceful gay pride parades has been declared illegal.
"This is an astonishing victory. Nikolai and his small band of daring LGBT activists have taken on the might of the Russian state - and won.
"It is a triumph for LGBT Russians and for all Russians who love liberty.
"This ruling expands the democratic space and gives comfort to human rights defenders everywhere.
"It's a positive result for gay rights and liberty, and a setback for autocracy and homophobia."
"Each year since 2006, despite threats to arrest and kill him, Nikolai Alekseev and his colleagues have exercised their lawful right to demand LGBT human rights. He has been arrested and beaten by the Moscow police, Christian fundamentalists, extreme nationalists and neo-Nazis.
"Undeterred, each year he continues to assert the legal right of LGBT people to hold a Moscow Pride parade - making a courageous stand both for LGBT equality and for freedom of expression.
"Mr Alekseev has taken on the repressive, homophobic Russian state, with his many legal cases in the European Court of Human Rights. He is a real pioneer and hero.
"His actions are supporting, broadening and strengthening the wider democratic and human rights movement in Russia, challenging the government's drift to authoritarianism and its many restrictions on the right to protest.
"At a time when so many Russian human rights defenders have been badly beaten and even murdered, Alekseev's campaigns show him to be a man of great bravery and moral principle. He is risking his life for the sake of liberty and freedom - for LGBT people and for all Russians."
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