Police detain British gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell in Moscow

(Reuters) - Russian police detained veteran British gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell in Moscow on Thursday for what they said was an illegal protest on the first day of the soccer World Cup.
Veteran British LGBT rights campaigner Peter Tatchell is detained by police officers during a one-man protest to draw attention to what he said were appalling human rights abuses committed against gay men in Chechnya, in central Moscow, Russia June 14, 2018. REUTERS/Glab Garanich
Tatchell, who has held similar protests around the world, had attempted to hold a one-man protest near Red Square to draw attention to what he said were appalling human rights abuses committed against gay men in Chechnya.
He began his protest by unfurling a poster which read: “Putin fails to act against Chechnya torture of gay people.”
Russian police quickly shut his protest down, with one officer telling Tatchell to stop what he was doing or be detained.
Veteran British LGBT rights campaigner Peter Tatchell is detained by a police officer during a one-man protest to draw attention to what he said were appalling human rights abuses committed against gay men in Chechnya, in central Moscow, Russia June 14, 2018. REUTERS/Glab Garanich
“During the World Cup it is forbidden to hold any action like this against Putin, against all these things,” the policeman told him.
Tatchell told the policeman he wanted to meet Putin to discuss gay rights in Russia, where any event or act regarded by the authorities as an attempt to promote homosexuality to minors is illegal and punishable by a fine. After a long conversation, Tatchell was led to a waiting police car.

CHECHEN ALLEGATIONS

Russian news agencies later cited the interior ministry as saying that Tatchell would be charged with breaking the law on holding public meetings and released as soon as the necessary paperwork was done.
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The punishment for such an offence is either a fine or a jail term of up to 15 days.
Tatchell said he had been detained in Russia twice before and that his one-man protest had been lawful.
“My fate was mild compared to what often happens to Russians who dare to challenge the Putin regime. I am awed by their courage,” he said in a statement released by his foundation afterwards.
“President Putin has failed to condemn and act against the homophobic witch-hunts in Chechnya, which have seen scores of LGBT+ people arrested and tortured, with some even being killed.”
Two men from Chechnya told Reuters in June last year they had been detained by police and subjected to torture and beatings because they were gay, which is considered a crime by some in their deeply conservative Muslim region of Russia.
The Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta also reported that some of the men rounded up had been killed. Chechen officials said that and all other related allegations were false, saying there were no gay men in the region to be persecuted.
Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the British parliament’s foreign affairs committee, said he was troubled by Tatchell’s treatment.
“I am deeply, deeply concerned at the report of the arrest of Peter Tatchell who is a man who has campaigned for human rights and civil rights for many, many years,” Tugendhat told parliament.